Recently at one of the interviews, I was asked a hypothetical question regarding Leadership and Innovation. “Let’s assume that you are a team leader and as a leader what is the most inventive or innovative thing you’ve done?”
My response was very short, sweet and simple, “I wrote a book”.
That’s right! I have written a book and successfully self-published both ebook and paperback. And I mean Self-publishing, with no help from designer or professional publisher except for my copy-editor and today’s technology. Everything in that book has been carefully crafted by myself through learning from trial and error, and then fine-tuned it for perfection; all because I believe that my story is worth telling. This is a first-hand story of my younger years – growing up in a war-torn country, survived the great genocide in the history of Cambodia and then escaped across the mine-filled jungle into the refugee camp in Thailand to find freedom and education.
Yes, “freedom + education = life”, and with life, everything is possible.
I have found the first variable of this equation, “freedom” when I arrived in Australia as a refugee in 1981. Since then, I’ve always wanted to write my story to tell the world, let them read about what I had been through in those years under the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979, and how I fought to survive. However, back then, there was still one value missing from the equation in my life, and that was “education”. I have been deprived of proper education since I was nine years old due to war and the Khmer Rouge regime. Although I had the story to tell in my head, I could not write. Over the years when I have learned how to write, I made many attempts to record my childhood experiences, my life in a labour camp, my separation from my family and my eventual escape across the border, but I was not able to continue beyond a few lines. Now as an adult, my emotion and trauma got in the way of my writing. Every time I sat down in front of a keyboard I would become very tired. Sadness would choke my words and tears would fill my eyes because my memories were just too painful. Like many survivors of this time I tried to move on with my life. It was easier to ignore my memories. Eventually, I stopped trying to write.
2015, forty years after the Fall of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, I’ve found my freedom, earned my education, and now, I have written a book to tell the world my untold story. It has always been my intention to share my story with my audiences, as well as to keep a record of my own history for the future generations – my children. But there is still another obstacle to overcome – how to get the book published. After spending a year of writing and editing to put together a 230-pages story, now I was given a new task to sum up the in a 300-words synopsis to be submitted to the publishers for consideration but there was zero interest.
However, I have already made up my mind to solve this problem, to overcome the obstacle with today’s technology and not to waste any more time. So, I questioned myself, why do I want to write this story? It was to find readers who have interest in this historical event and the similar tragedies that are happening all around the world today. To raise awareness about Wars and Refugees. It is very important to have my story reached as many readers as I could, and the technology is already here and it is very easy to do it by myself – self-publishing. My story can reach the readers much faster all over the world and the tools are free.
If I were a leader, this would be my truthful answer to that hypothetical question. “I am not the one who invented ebook publishing platform, but I just need to recognize exceptional technology, be innovative and willingly use them to achieve my goal, that is, to have my story published”.