Is Virtual Relationship a New Trend?

Just in case some of you have a hard time defining this “trend”, let us refer to its definition in Wikipedia. A “virtual relationship” or “Internet relationship“, refers to a relationship between people who have met online, and in many cases know each other only via the Internet.[1] Online relationships are similar in many ways to pen pal relationships. This relationship can be romantic, platonic, or even based on business affairs. On this ground, I’d like to review this kind of relationship as follows.

Photo by Jayden Sim on Unsplash

Virtual Romance

Have you happened to have a crush on someone when you meet her or him in real life? Then, you stay connected with her or him online. Or you find him or her online first and eventually interested in her or him. Of course, you may know (about) some distant couples who keep in touch this way. In most cases, this kind of relationship leads to separation, largely attributed to lack of physical touch (if not sexual!). As the saying goes, “far from sight, far from mind”! I admit that this situation can happen to many such couples. Yet, have they made enough efforts or commitments to stay in physical touch, from time to time? Of course, when they are apart, online chats should bridge their emotional gaps. Yet, once together, how much/quality time do they invest in each other? If the answer to this question is “little”. Then, no longer wonder why they become romantically separated. Trust me: I have gone through this experience myself. The greatest challenge that tried me was “doubt”. Yet, over time, with my close circle’s support, like Mastermind Club Cambodia, I have learned to embrace the reality. Then, I have not expected too much from my partner while away.

Virtual Friendship

Do I need to mention social media covers “virtually” all our online territories? In Cambodia, Telegram is following Facebook Messenger very close, when it comes to instant chats. Hangouts, appointments, or merely personal updates, have been widely communicated through myriads of such chat groups. Even I have been added to over 100 so far just to stay in touch with my friends from high school, university or even in the same sector. Yet, the problem here is, we are plugged to too many online groups to stay focused on closer or more intimate ones. This trade-off includes our own families. Luckily, we have been given the option to mute those group notifications we find annoying to us! My habit would be to ask my friends for occasional meetups, instead of relying on hiding my emotions behind the screen all the time.

Virtual Work

If you agree that technology helps you get more jobs done faster, then, welcome to the virtual work circle! Yet, what I find funny is, when you and your colleagues simply sit side by side and you text her about such and such tasks! Although I find it very efficient to work from distance, even without on-shoulder supervision, short commutation within the office premises would do us no harm. One, this helps you build more personal rapport with your colleagues. Second, it avoids miscommunication mostly covered in mere texts, although some emojis or stickers might relieve our online tensions! Third, your muscles need some exercise at daytime so your bones will not get numb sitting at your desk all day long.

In a nutshell, I am not opposing “virtual relationship”. Yet, I believe we should spare some time for “actual relationship” as to enhance each other’s understanding and feelings for common growth. Ultimately, what matters between these types of relationship remains “trust, empathy and compassion”, without which we would get emotionally lost in this fast-growing world!

9 Main Lessons from My 2019

Another year has passed us by, hasn’t it? Yet, 2019 hasn’t gone away without any remarkable takeaway for my life. I hope my shared lessons could benefit your path, if you are now reading my occasional blog post! Trust me you will learn more in-depth than from my social media posts in the year 😉

1- Scorpions Stink

Have you ever argued against someone so hard that they even blocked your call? Despite your attempts to mend that hot argument, you could only follow that person’s Facebook updates. Funnily, on one fine day, that person came back and asked you for advice about his financial crisis. Out of guilt, you thought you could share the loan with that person as to relieve his burden. Result, they’ve run away for good, leaving you responsible for the full amount! The story twist is, he also treated other people around you the same way!

Photo by Kelsey Dody on Unsplash

Takeaway: Ask yourself twice or do your due diligence before you exercise your kindness to a suspect. Or this becomes oblivion or naivety instead.

2- Opportunities May Come to Us Unexpected, If…

As usual, I have always set up my dream boards with Mastermind Club as our yearly goals to look up to and achieve. Not all my travel destinations were completed. Instead, I took my small family to Singapore and Malaysia with our larger one. Besides, I was given the chance to attend TIFF in Japan and CSFF in China, almost out of the blue!

TIFF 2019 Programming Workshop – Tokyo, Japan

Takeaway: Set your goals, but also seize relevant opportunities because they may not come round.

3- Yogic Meditation Does Wonders

It was only till mid-November that I realize I needed yoga, often recommended by a Mastermind, Vanna. Despite multiple variations of yogic practices, RajaYoga only requires you to reflect on your spirituality and meditate with your eyes open (or optionally closed). As far as my skepticism could go, the real deal was more and more positive phenomena happening to and around me. For instance, my boss decided to have me focus on my main skill at work, as I long requested. Also, a huge business opportunity finally popped up, as I long expected.

Takeaway: You may not need yoga now. But what you need everyday is self-reflection and self-belief in your next endeavors.

4- The Less Expected, The Freer to Feel

Of 3/4 of last year, I spent so much time caring about small details that my follow-ups with co-workers intimidated their performance. Only in the last phase of our festival did I learn to keep calm and cool, no matter what happened. We lastly all agreed to do our best to make the 8th edition better, if not ‘best’. What turns out was a considerable improvement of audience number and positive feedback from our stakeholders.

Takeaway: If you learn to calm yourself down to cope with adversities, you should empower your colleagues to do the same.

5- Life Doesn’t Have to Be Linear

After quitting PuPrum, I thought I could freelance or even reset up my movie business for good. Yet, due to my varied side commitments between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, I could only wait for confirmation of prospects and investors to close our deals until August. Yet, my small family is growing with steady ‘investments’ – if not expenses- in their upbringings. I came to realize it was only fair to them for me to land back on a full-time job. Until when? Who knows?!

Photo by Raphaël Biscaldi on Unsplash

Takeaway: Nobody else takes control over your life. Do whatever it takes to keep yourself alive and your family secure. People’s opinions about your changes don’t matter to your future.

6- Essentialism Breaks Bad Habits

You may tend to have a great deal of friends. But it takes only a friend to change your senseless habits, if you take his shared lesson seriously. That was when I read through ‘Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less’, recommended by Rithy, SmallWorld Founder. To me, his results seemed effortless. I felt so thankful to learn his secret!

Takeaway: Essentialism is not about cutting yourself off people and materials, but about prioritizing only what matters to your life and work.

7- Family (Still) Matters

Have you ever wondered why you burn that midnight oil or toil your way late overnight? Of course, don’t get me wrong as to encourage you to be lazy, as all efforts should echo some results. Yet, I’m here reminding us to take some time off for your loved ones, as well. If you only reunite with them in the evening, make your late hours count for them. If yours live far from you, spare a day or two per week to visit them. I’m sure you come back to work, not just energized, but also complete.

Takeaway: If you lose your work, you may find another one soon enough. If you lose your family time, no amount of money would be enough to make up for that loss.

8- Express Love, but Tame Fear

Although this insight sounds universally redundant, I believe most take it for granted. In the last few months, I’ve learned to love without expectations. I’ve learned to trust the ones I love with all my heart. Still, I keep admitting my insecurity when things go wrong and turn out different from my original plan. Then, I have two choices (or more): 1- To go with the flow (if the change rimes with my inner value) or 2- To accept it, yet communicate my principle (if the change reversed my personal code).

Takeaway: Embrace your fear, without affecting others, then, turn it your productive way.

9- People Should Prevail over Results

This lesson reflects on my experience with leaders I’ve come across so far. I was myself occasionally affected with such result-oriented approach. I learned the hard way that I may lose some (good) people by prioritizing only results. Here, it depends on your personal preference. And I’m neither asserting which one is right or wrong.

Takeaway: Choose your leadership style wisely. By all means, you’ll reap what you have sowed.

On my side/final note, as a movie lover myself, here goes the list of my top 9 movies of 2019 in random order:

1- Avengers Endgame

2- Frozen II

3- Ad Astra

4- Ip Man IV

5- The Clock

6- Marriage Story

7- Star Wars IX

8- Joker

9- John Wick: Chapter 3

I hope you can somehow relate to my happenings in 2019 and that you may have learned as much from some of the movies listed here, too 😉

How did last year go for you? Let me know in your comments (if any)!

4 Life Lessons for My 40 Years

With an eye’s blink, I turn 40 this year. Wait, some of you may not believe it. Well, you’re right because my current birth date was distorted a couple of times. First, my father made it in 1982 for him to remember it easily. Second, our academic or local authorities recognized it as only 1981, so they could accept my junior high school registration! After all, I don’t think age would matter much to me, as long as I remain alive, valuable and, of course, happy! If you look at my 2019 memoir, you’ll find my takeaway on a non-linear life. I still find this true even for years to come. But it causes us no harm taking some retrospective into 4 decades of my existence, doesn’t it? And I’ve come to prioritize these values above all, in many stages of my life.

Posing at age of 2 with my big sister and parents in Royal Palace

1- Respect Takes Equal Treatment

My young age was marked by my top scores in class, out of an uncle’s motivation and my guilt of losing. Somehow, along the line, I gained some respect this way. Later in “volunteer” years, I realized that my recognition of other people’s strengths would earn more “lasting” respect. If I treat anyone any less than me, that would imply some self-insult. Why? Because I have fallen into this mental trap many times and learned to see people in question the other way around.

Image may contain: 22 people, including Arunreasey Sann, Virak Fantastic, Chea Vannaroth, Velika Pich, Kimhorng Chhay and Choun Keochindara, people standing and outdoor
Group picture on our way to FilmCamp Trip 2014 to Koh Rong

2- Trust Rhymes with Mutual Faith

Subconsciously infected with “high performance attitude”, I would doubt my colleagues’ ability to solve problems of my size. Many a time, I tended to micro-manage their progress, as a double-edged knife. Insecure ones may feel intimidated and scared away to work with me. Confident ones may stick with me, hopefully to share “our” vision. Through some hard realization, I’ve learned to set aside those doubts as to give myself more inner peace and other people more freedom to go their way. After all, they will come back to me if they’re meant to!

If you trust me, trust these brands (and more)!

3- Loyalty Requires Single-Minded Commitment

As you can see so far, my sense of insecurity keeps growing so stronger that it even affected my relationship. I once questioned the loyalty of my significant one, out of jealousy. Actually, looking back, we were both to blame. It was just that I took a step back and let her back into my life. Reason? It was just my evil judgment over her casual comment. Oddly enough, this has manifested in my business life a few times since 2015. The latest one happened last year, which I prudently tolerated, as an ultimatum. Some lines should be drawn or I would end up victimized again and again!

Image may contain: 2 people
Shopping in Bangkok after 2 years of our marriage

4- Self-Worth Beats Insecurity

2015 probably signaled my lowest turning point, affecting both my financial and marital cores. That was the year I bit more than I could chew, expecting my team “mates” to support me. Yet, this sense of social comparison hit me so hard that my spirit kept me off track for a few years. Those years, I called my “humblest” as I needed to relearn some old way of life. Meanwhile, I kept my chin up for better days. In late 2019, “guided meditation” has re-aligned my “ego” from relying on people around me to “mastering my own mind” instead.

Image may contain: 4 people, including Sum Sithen, people standing and outdoor
Pondering during an ARRI training in Battambang

After all those active years, I came to conclude that the base of every healthy relationship is friendship because it’s been built on reciprocated respect, trust and loyalty. I’ve thus called myself lucky to retain some partners, friends, customers, family members that way. Now I don’t need that many “unnecessary” opinions to prove my worth, because, up to this mid-life, I somehow know I am enough 🙂 And it’s been just “my way” like in this favorite song of mine!

PS: Hit me up at Contact if you feel like catching up and growing our next stages of life… together!

Too Late to “Start Up”? Step Up!

It has been a long time since last movie review. This time, I’d still like to focus on international titles! Also, to prepare my new venture, watching K-drama series “Start Up” on Netflix would be rewarding for me, I supposed. My “indulgence” in the 16 episodes of this tech-based rom-com was meant to explore such a globally evolving streaming platform, as well as life inspirations.

Start-Up (TV Series 2020– ) - IMDb

1- From Start-up to Scale-up

From my past courses in National University of Management, a startup would mean simply a new business or one that are being created or up and running. In the last decade, the term seems to have now evolve to rather designate a technology-based new enterprise (if not, business). Regardless of these different definitions, all “startups” seem to take a common direction, from a simple (product) idea to a scalable and sustainable business model, with cost/resource efficiency. The series perfectly outlines just that pattern, with all its twists and turns, struggles and joy. You may even find some jargons simplified in action or pop-up texts such as “heckathon“, “elevator pitch“, “burn rate“. What stroke me most in the first few episodes is this statement: “If you succeed, you are called a CEO. If you don’t, you are called a fraud”.

2- Drama Series Re-Defined

As that was my first time following such a streaming series, I found its format different from other countries. Each episode takes over 60 minutes, compared to 45 minutes per Thai or Chinese episode. Although its intro and outro remain there, they tend add up subtle interesting information from each previous episode. Still, I find the dramatic axes a bit overrated in such a tech-based content! Kindness to strangers and sister feud, despite its plausible justifications, seem rare these days. On the bright side, rarity highlighted by celebrities may infuse more humanity in us?!

3- Business and Life Lessons

If you manage to complete all the series, you’ll find different lessons in different episodes. Below are my personal takeaways from “Start-Up”:

  • “Happiness is a choice.” Dal-mi chooses to be happy in poverty, yet determined to change. Her sister, In-jae chooses to live rich as a sign of happiness.
  • “A contract is a Bible to live by, of course, with its consequences.” Near the end, Do-san and Dal-mi decide get their startup acquired without realizing its professional consequences over their next steps.
  • “A healthy business will first be loved, then profitable.” This principle seems stretched over the whole plot, as Sam-san Tech, later incorporated into “Chung-myung Company”, bases their concept on care for vulnerable people.
  • “Even though startuppers need a mentor, they still need to make their own decision over their business direction.” As Ji-pyeong mentors Dal-mi to elevate a CEO’s share as much as possible, she decides to own up less. She confidently rationalizes that her decision may affect only him as a mentor!

Overall, it feels like a nice and complete package for my current situation. The future is unavoidably streaming. We only need to prepare our present for the best to come. Until I wish you all a happy and safe New Year. Let’s (re) start up 2021 together!

PS: My next post will be about my life lessons from my 40 years on Earth!

A local culture longer than Angkor

Ever heard this proverb before: “The grass is always greener on the other side”? This reflects our current worry about Cambodian culture loss. Actually, looking deeper, other local ethnic identities are also endangered. Requested by Conserve Indigenous People’s Languages (CIPL), we, at SFA, trained indigenous filmmakers last month in Banlung. This ad-hoc Docu-FilmCamp by Mr. CHHORN BunHom, allowed us to understand a little more about their communities through 3 Cs.

From left to right: SAM Leakhena, SFA’s training assistant, CHHORN BunHom, SFA’s trainer, myself, SIN Bolai, CIPL’s Program Coordinator, NAUNG Sam Oeung, CIPL’s Executive Director, CIPL’s Administrator

1- Cousins and Co-Owners

From the dawn of time, Cambodia has been home to varied ethnic groups. Of which Khmer people make up for the majority. Historically, Khmer, Tampuan, Phnong, Kuy, Jarai and many others share this land once called “Khmer Empire”. Khmer people seemed to be most exposed to external cultures. Hence, we have been dominating territorial administration. In spite of Khmers’ countless historic milestones, our indigenous cousins have kept their traditions dear. Therefore, if one wishes to unearth the roots of Khmer, they might start with our indigenous fellows.

Traditional Weaving Method Currently Preserved by Tampoun Families

2- Community Issues

Despite centuries of co-existence, our indigenous fellows tend to face this recurrent dilemma: conservation of minor identities or mainstreaming into Khmer. When we went to document their lives, we could see some traditions preserved. Those include ethnic weaving methods and gongs as their basic music instrument. Yet, a few changes have been obviously spotted: Khmer casual clothes and fancy substances like drugs. Surprisingly, these issues have been raised by their young fellow filmmakers.

Behind-the-Scene of a short documentary on drug issues faced by indigenous youth, shot by the lake of Yeak Laom, Rattanakiri’s landmark

3- Civilization or Constraints?

By all means, we can only help them with filmmaking skills. So we’d rather leave the decisions and action to our indigenous trainees. We, as Cambodians, (not Khmer), believe documentaries would highlight their issues better. These can lead to more holistic solutions. For instance, after training in Bophana Center, Tumpoun filmmaker named Lean made a documentary titled “Endure“. Eventually, some authorities raised (financial) support of his female subject. Her background is worsened with divorce, after domestic violence and poverty.

A gong show in front of a Tampoun ancestor statue, shot for another documentary

Overall, the issues faced by our indigenous youth feel as big as mainstream Cambodian people. If we think every human being deserves their birthrights, indigenous people should be treated the same way. Then, we can proudly state their cultural identities and human development contributes to Cambodian diversity.

PS: Since last year, we have decided to tackle indigenous community issues in our next phase of Let’s Document Cambodia. So stay tuned for these updates on our Page from January on!

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PPS: Check out this impromptu gong performance for your relaxation!