Creating Impact Without Permission by Rachel How from Fave

David Yap
March 15, 2023

Watch Rachel How talk about her journey of creating Malaysia who make and her insight to be a better creator. Live event from Friends of Figma KL with David Yap & Leong Chee Seng. Image from Pavlov Visuals

Rachel How  0:00  
So, today I'm going to also share about something very similar, which is how you can actually create impact without permission. So by permission means, basically, you don't need anyone to tell you, can you create this? Can you do that? Can you go for this thing that you want to go for? Right now? It's you don't need any of them. Right. So I was done. I'm going to start on. Hi, I'm Rachel. This is how I look like when I work. And this is my team of front designers at faith. We have x faith, Arvin, Archie, Esther and myself. So these are the people that have supported me along the way, since one and a half years ago, when I started off as a designer with no background, and I never been to University. I'm still figuring things out right now. And, well, I tried different jobs along the way in my life, but things still turn out quite fine, I think. Right? I think I'm still fine. So um, besides that, actually, the third and fourth pillar is my hobby. So besides designing, and, you know, having a brilliant team here at fav, I also like to quote, to build things to just, you know, explore things that intrigued me all the time. And I also like to write so this is like something that I've been experimenting recently, which is like a public notebook. And well, not forgetting my cat and basically represents my family and my cat as well. So yeah, this is the things that I'm fascinated about, and the things that got me where I am today. So let's begin. Um, maybe you can also share in the chat, like, What does career satisfaction mean to you? And well, another question that I would like to give you as well is, what does freedom mean to you? You know, what, what does this really like? What does this actually mean? And also, what does happiness mean to you? So give you a moment to think about these three things. And because these are the things that will actually affect everything you do in life, and till the day you actually die, right? And while for me, I always ask this question every single day. And well, I guess the question I'm sorry, I have for now is a life of mission and purpose.

I don't really have a fixed answer yet. But well, maybe this is it. Right? So not forgetting, you know, a life of mission and purpose, which means that because we are all going to die at some point right in life. And what does that mean to us? When we die? What do we want to leave that as a legacy? Is it trying something that we want? Is it spending time with people we love? And this is exactly the things that hit me during this pandemic? Which is these kind of like life questions, right? And well, this is looking back and into life is the square box is actually me. And the rest on the right, are the people that

I met along the way. And ironically, I don't really fit in, because I don't really know what I want to do. I have no background, I have no formal education. So that's how I feel all the time. You know, I'm this little square box. And until now, I still feel the same. So in 2020, during a pandemic, we were all working from home. And well, things were really, really just terrible, right? And I was sitting at home myself thinking, what should I do to with all the free time I suddenly have after work, there is no more commute time, there is no more lunch time with people, you know, that we used to call for one hour lunch and walk back to office after that. But now it's just lunch at home. And sometimes it feels really lonely. So I was like, wondering, you know, what, can I change in this pandemic? It doesn't, it might not last long. That's what I thought to myself back then. And, and what what can I do differently during this time? And then I actually, like, started reading stuff, trying new things, right. So after that, I actually started to create a space where Malaysian creators get discovered, which is actually my community. They're another and building on we are not big, we are not like, phenomenal, but I guess it's just something that I'm trying to try out out of my comfort zone while I was still figuring things out during March. Right. So yeah, let's let's hop into the journey of how I began this bizarre journey, right? So

during a pandemic, I was born, you know, I read a few books and the books told me to start ideating start, like, right now ideas in the shower in the car, if if before you sleep, you know, so I created a notion document or idea dumbs. And basically it has all the ideas, the plans that I want to do. It can be anything like changing the world, you know, but there's also some stuff that I'm just I just done my idea that maybe I just want to fix my lamp, and the lamp is really like annoying or stuff like that. So just like tiny UX problems that happen

In my daily life, and I just write them down. So I got them into ideas, promising ideas, what am I building right now and what's completed. So this is a screenshot taken back then, right now there is moved there moved to completed some of them. So thankfully, but yeah, and during that time, I was like focusing on quantity over quality. So I've maybe you related before is that quantity actually leads to quality. What it means is in design in life, in ideation, when you try to perfect one single Great idea, it doesn't really work out, sometimes, sometimes the way is to go, the way to go is to basically churn out like hundreds of ideas, as much as you can crazy or not let this fight later. And well just just, you know, do your best to, to find a pool of ideas first and distil them later and enter with the best idea that you could, and just refine it all the way. So this is why I actually tried with my product all Malaysians will make is to just start off with a poor ideas, jot them down, no judgmental myself, and treat it like a design process, right as a designer. And just, I just thought, I think finding that hole. Okay, maybe I would like to try this idea, right? So then I created a PRD, I pretended I'm the pm for my product. And yeah, I just went with the flow, it was really fun, right? And was after that I started designing, which is the thing that I'd like to do the best. And I limited myself to two hours to design this project. Because I don't want to be stuck in a wheel where I just keep on designing and apparel never gets built. So after two hours, I opened my coat environment and started coding, right. And I had also because I don't know anything about back end development. And my front end development is also like, you know, note level. So I was like telling myself, let's try to go slow. And let's try Google Sheets as a content management system. So this is me with my mock data from Google Sheets and pulling data from the Google sheets to the front end of the site itself. And just imagining like, Hi, you know, just trying out things and learning. And well, it meant I managed to make it work, I think at that time, you can see that this is the Google Sheet URL that I pulled from. And on the front end, it actually showed up. And actually when this moment happened, I was like, shouting in my own room.

I just like happy, so happy to the point, I don't know what to say. And I've never really felt this all the time. So I really cherish this kind of feeling. And it's not something very big. But it just, it just lights up something meaningful. So yeah, after that, I was like, I think I really like what I'm doing. Let's keep going. And after that I had a help from my friend who was Vincent from last time used to be on faith. And right now he's in touch and go. So thanks to him, he mentored me to how to code properly. And with react until when as a CSS. And basically what happened was, after a few mentoring sessions from him, he helped out a little bit, like how do you refactor the code to make it better and stuff like that. So it really opened a whole new world of skill set for me. And then I started like, getting more serious about this project. And while I was doing this, I was actually doing in public as well. So what I highly encourage you guys to do is also to build in public load in public building public, just share everything in public on your preferred social media, it can be Instagram, it can be Twitter, it can be whatever you want, even Snapchat, you know, it doesn't matter. It's just getting your idea out there. Even at its infancy stage, even though it might seem really small to you. It might be really like, you know, I'm a designer, why should I code, right? Like, there's a lot of imposter syndrome inside me. And I tried to let it go by doing it publicly. So when you do publicly, people start coming to you, and in a good way, right? So what I do is people will like it to you, they will follow the read. And when actually I saw the results of the site itself on a Google Sheet as a database. It was really motivating when people were telling me messaging me like, Hey, I really like what you're doing. And it just gives me a sense of like, like, accomplishment that people actually appreciate. And it makes me want to do more, right? And the learning process just skyrocketed like that. Because of all these things I put myself out there in public. So also that these are the things I did to actually get people on the site, which I was like, oh let's find a few talented people that want to feature on my site and let's back them to be on it and if you don't want to be on it, I can help you feel the details so that you can be on it right. And after that. Yeah, I have reached out to these people are these are Malaysians. They are really talented Malaysian Indian

We are people who actually code and do things themselves, or people who draw, right. So we have Zoe ryzom, Henry, Kimberly and Gaddafi. And also, this guy from I don't know what country this is sorry. But he wanted to do the same thing for his own country. And actually, my site was still at infancy stage, but people wanted to open source code so that they can do it itself. So back then what I did was I open source the site right now, no, because of Deccan issues. But previously, that was what I did. So basically sharing this quote everyone, and let's do it together, you know. So yeah, after that, I did things that don't scale, which is begging one by one to be on site. And I also reached out to Felix from ADP lists. So if you don't know ADP is actually amazing design people, it's not all they are collaborating with InVision design to actually help designers from all over the world to get a job. And also, if you need any portfolio reviews, any like mentorship, any questions, you can go on ADP lists, and just engage with any of these mentors. And these mentors are like, world class from all over the world, just, you know, just give it a try. So what I did was I reached out to Felix, and he was kind enough to let me feature a few of his, like Malaysian candidates on my site as well. So after that, it was a one time partnership after that, and I started building the site. So after launching a site quietly, actually, because I was so afraid of people judging me. And this was what happened was I just shared like, Hey, no, I just build a site on indie hackers, which is a place where a forum where I'm self taught coders or developers actually, like look in there. And I was like, let's, let's try this and see what happens. So I was waiting for people to judge my site and you know, scold or, or criticise or something, but it was not what I expected, people were actually quite helpful. And after that, um, this thing, got like, these public learnings caught me quite a lot of impressions for my tweet on site. And it's after generating more and more leads, basically people who want to sign up on the site. So then after that,

I just kept going. So while doing all these marketing and publishing stuff, I also was improving the back end architecture of the site, because I was really interested to learn how to code back then. So while doing that, I tracked my site one day, and I was like, holy shit, like there was like, in last seven days, there were almost 1000 pageviews, I don't really have the data for 1000 views. But

I, like this was the stat I put put up back then. So like, I was, like, Ha, this is something amazing. I never thought like a side project of learning how to code could become like that, because this is not what I intended in the first place. And after that, I kept getting emails of like, people liking my project, and they want to do themselves for their own country, in Thailand, in Poland, in other places in the world as well. And people who just left a message and tell me they really like it. So I was like, wow, this is something I've never done before. I've never felt

empowered before. Right. And after that, some girl Yvonne, who's from Sunder Malaysia, she reached out to me and said, hey, why is Malaysians who make Why does? Why does your community not have a place where you guys engage? And I was like, I don't know. I didn't intend for it to become a community. I just wanted to be a site. And that's it. Because I was so afraid to fail, I was so afraid to talk to people. I am an introvert. So what I did was, I was like, I thought to myself, for one month, I thought and hesitated and thinking to myself, if I want to start a telegram channel or forum for people to talk to each other. And after that, I was like, you know, one day I just turn on telegram, create another account when create a group and add a few people in. And after that, I would just took out tweeted on my Twitter, like, Hey, we have a community come join if you want to, but if you don't want to explain it, so And after that, like it just started growing, like people just adding people in and I was like, Oh my God. And after that, it became like 130 something members right now. And up to today. I'm very surprised that people are still talking in the group. They were learning from each other sharing things that they've learned from finance, investments, coding, anything under the roof, right? And they just like they're just having a good time without me interfering them. And then I was like, wow, this is cool, you know. And then I started like refining the site design. Thanks to my boyfriend with the branding and Andy here who helped with a coat as well. So like we started redesigning more and more things, and added a newsletter as well. So now we have Malaysian

brew, which is inspired by morning brew, it's a newsletter where I kind of like write once a month, maybe when I have the time to actually feature Malaysian creators here, what they're working on and projects, right. So basically, it's just a way to spotlight them. And after that, I was like, you know, this people, this Malaysians, we make a lot of great stuff. And I don't even know what what products they make because they are all over the place, there's no one place to find them. And our products can can be in many forms. It can be built with code, it can be a community, it can be some tool that someone built, any causal can be something else, right? There is no tangible form sometimes. So here we have Faris, who built map folder, which is a productivity tool. And we have Phillip and Jetro, who is the community leaders for PI data, which is a data science follow book community. And also like other makers that behind the scenes, they are doing so much yet, they don't get off spotlight too sometimes. So I did have the products tab here and on the Malaysians who make sign. So basically to showcase these peoples are also products. And this is still at the very infant stage because this was like a mini project as well. So after that, we had a meetup last month, I was like, let's hope let 10 people turn up. And that would be I'll be really grateful already, you know, because I've never did all these things. And I was surprised because there were like 15 people, and I'm like, Ah, okay, and and then at the end, the meeting lasted for like two to three hours. Because there were like 10 offers, I think, who sit till the end. And we just keep chatting, chatting about like random stuff, things that you're interested in can be food, it can be anything. And it just people really have a good time. And we're just,

you know, connecting each other together. And previously, these people did never knew each other. So in a community, we actually like, enable people to know each other through these kind of meetup events. And it felt like, you know, it was something. So I mean, after that, like now I've shared with you like about Malaysians who make like, how this side project has helped me realise a lot of things during the pandemic. And really, this was actually just a quote from

my boss, Archie. So basically, he was like, imagine you have, imagine you're about to cave, you know about, okay, there's this long stairs, and then you look up, you feel like you want to achieve the last step of the stairs, which is a goal on top. And if you just want to achieve that right away, you're gonna feel overwhelmed. Why not take a step, one step at a time. Your product page is one step. And your telegram is one step. So if you take 100 steps, you're gonna reach the goal someday. So this is what I've been, like hanging on to this principle for this long. And well, I guess it's working out, right. So yeah, I give myself the permission to try things that I never did there to, like, putting a community on telegram giving a sharing session to you guys, and things like that. Right? So yeah, and I think what I'm trying to get to is basically the world will tell us what to do. But, you know, you don't have to

listen to them all the time. Listen to yourself, right? So let's imagine, we have faith here. And then we have pbsp law, right? And if people tell us like, you know, the world works fine without e wallets without cashback without

e payments, right digital payments. But what if faith just accepts this and then just fits, then we wouldn't have faith pay today. And if the world tells you, like, you know, you're a bank, you're gonna be boring, you're gonna be like, simple, like other banks, because that's the best way to go. That's the safest way. And then there will be DBS because DBS is like the best bank in Southeast Asia, I think. So basically, what I'm trying to get at is like,

Don't settle for what people tell you to do. And just like, think, for yourself, and see what's the best way to approach a problem, if the problem is,

can be solved. I mean, just try it. Right. So we also have a really great startup here called flux in Malaysia. And you might, some of you might not know it. It's basically a car subscription platform. And you can actually now own a car, like subscribing to Netflix and Spotify. And if flux never effects this into the world that you can subscribe a car, either pay for the car interest on a car, you don't get a loan, and you know, then there wouldn't be a seller like that. So these are the people who actually not believe in what people tell you to do, and just go

All right. And speaking of cars, when you pay at a petrol, you're going to walk all the way to the counter and pay and walk back in and pump your petrol. But what if you can use do in your car. And while pumping a petrol, you can also earn rewards. So that's where the setup comes in. Also Malaysian startup where if everyone tells that though, to just not do that, they wouldn't have done it. So these are like, startups to actually change how the way we deal with life. And it's a good thing, right. And what I'm trying to get at is also, these startups have the power to change Malaysians, lifestyles, and you have the power to change the world as well. And change doesn't have to be big, you know. So, you know, you don't have to go out and start a company, right? I don't go to SSM tomorrow, right? So let's try a bit of small steps. And as designers, you might love sticky notes, post it notes. So a story about the fun thing about this post in our story is basically this scientists from tree and Dr. Spencer, when he he didn't set out to invent post it note for for, you know, the entire world to use. It wasn't his intention. In the beginning, when he was starting out, he was like, trying to invent some glue or something like that. And she accidentally invented glue where it's not that sticky, but it kind of sticks. So it's like neither here nor there kind of glue. And like, I don't know how many years later, another of his scientists kind of like experimented with people with a dude. And he was like, Ha, this could be a posted on. And that's how our sticky notes came about. So, you know, they didn't set out to change the world, but they accidentally did Etienne, and that's by doing something right? When you try something it's bound to succeed one day. And you know, everyone loves cookies, I hope. And these sticky, chewy chocolate chip cookies wouldn't have existed if this woman called Ruth was actually baking cookies at her home for her guests. And she couldn't find Baker's chocolate. And she said, Oh, this chocolate from Nestle somewhere in the kitchen and just experimented. She expected the cookie to turn out perfectly Brown, perfectly chocolatey. And after that, when she's finished baking the cookie, the cookie came out. And she was like, Oh, it's gooey and sticky. And it's weird. It's like, so messy. But when she tasted it with a guest tasting, he was like, Huh, that's pretty good. So that is how the this kind of cookies just got, like, invented, right? It was also by accident. And I am sure everyone is familiar with Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, it started off as a side project hot or not. And right now look how big it is. And basically,

one of the best things that he said is basically, he's learned more coding from his random side projects than the courses he took in college. And that's pretty much one of the examples that people who have side projects have achieved more by not knowing by not setting out to do in the first place. Right. And as designers, maybe you have designed icons before, and maybe you sometimes wanted to design a few like icons that you like, for example, trap, he designed a minimal icon on figma. And well, he just showed the internet on Twitter one day, and like, Hey, you know, this is my current screen setup. He did not set out to win to earn 116 k in I think six days. And basically what happened was mkbhd took his icon and started sharing on YouTube, then he didn't even know about it. And one day he just kept kept raking in money. And what the thing that he's actually shared with the world while writing what he learned from this entire, like, this incident, right, is keep working on things that you enjoy, share them with the world and let the internet do the rest. So just settle in his talk. Basically, he enjoyed design icons. He shared them on public, in public and on social media. And basically things just happened, right? And if you look at everything, right, and all the examples I shared seriously, like things just fell into place. Nobody said to be a billionaire. Nobody said to be a coder who's earning so much funny. And you know, this is like all the examples that

I hope that could inspire you. So how will you create impact, right? Well, in a design process, this is the design squiggle and it starts on messy at first. And like things slowly get clearer as you progress in the design process after empathy, after testing after prototyping, changing your designs iterating and repeatedly going through this process, right namely the design thinking process, and sorry to say that I don't have a slide

The process of how do we achieve?

Like impact? There's no solid process, there is no how to step by step. I don't have a manual. But I think what worked for me is by following the same principle as design, and basically what I call this the site hustle principle, a bit cheesy, but let's just hear me out. Right? So the first thing in my principle is, try to follow your curiosity. What takes you what makes you tick? Um, what is the thing that you are drawn to? When even when nobody told you to? It can be music, it can be art, it can be doodling on sticky notes? I don't know, right? It can be anything, right? If you like to draw, just keep drawing. And well, focus on your why as well, not your how. So think about what you're trying to achieve. Why do you want to do this, maybe there is a purpose that you want to achieve with what you're doing what you're curious with, right? And the solution can come later. So similar to building a product, or designing a product, we don't build a product for people to pay, we don't design a product just for you to make cashless payments, so that, you know, it's safe for you. But the why behind this is we want to give you convenience. And we invent how you're paying your your coffee, how you're able to earn rewards while paying for your coffee. And that's the byproduct of your y. So once you achieve focusing on your y, try creating often right?

Creating often means if you like drawing, you think that your wife or drawing is you want to inspire people to draw more, it can be because you just simply feel happy drawing. And it can be

you know, you just really enjoy doing this. So just keep doing it right. Like, even though you you're not good at it, but you're curious, and you know, what's your why, then just create, don't care about like whether your drawing sucks or not. Because sometimes the only people who are judging you is yourself, and no one else judges you, right? And well, because you create often. And that's when you can actually also share your work. So don't just create and create and create public private, start sharing your work as well. Basically, sharing in public in any platforms that you like, that you feel comfortable with. Because once you share the work, you're able to share joy with people as well. And share your back your behind the scenes process as well don't just share a perfect masterpiece. Because oftentimes, people are actually intrigued by the process that you arrive at your art and not the finished art itself. So by sharing your work, you're getting yourself out putting yourself out there, you're overcoming your fear of failure, you are actually sharing joy with others. And actually, what happens is also people will give you feedback, like, Hey, you know, I really liked the way you put these colours on your art. And that's when you feel like, Ha, I really feel motivated to go keep going. And then you have to feel empowered to go keep on experimenting with different colours, experimenting with different design styles. And that's when things just start falling into place. And well follow your curiosity, focus on your why create often share work, but most importantly, put your mental health first, right? It can be really hard during this pandemic, even though there's a vaccine now, but we don't know when this is going to end. And we don't know if it's if anything's gonna happen in future as well. I don't even know what's gonna happen tomorrow, right? And well, basically, these are the principles that got me here. so far. I'm still fumbling, I'm still messed up sometimes. But like, what I want to achieve in 2021 is basically to basically have more joy to creation. And I hope you will actually do the same. Right? So sharing his quote on my wall, which is there actually, is the thing that makes you happy. Yes, do that. So this is what I wake up to every single day. And the thing that you're trying to create doesn't have to make money all the time. It's not about money. The money will come when you actually start to create things that are building and you actually find a way. You don't have to set out all the way to just earn money. There are accidents that will happen. So for example, in my community I meet I meet a lot of people that I never knew existed in Malaysia, I met a lot of interesting minds who are willing to exchange ideas. I met people who kept me accountable, who exchange ideas with me when I was lost, and people who I could go to to get advice all the time. They never let me down. And this is what the site project actually brings you. Right? So I encourage everyone to actually start discovering follow your curiosity. Ask yourself what you want to achieve. What does

Career satisfaction, freedom, and what does happiness mean to you as a human being. And besides your full time job, you're more than just a job title, right? You can be a designer, you can be an artist, you can be a coder. But let's face it, we are all human beings, we are more than what we are told to do. And the only way that you're able to do more than what you're told to do is actually to create a side project for yourself, creating for yourself and for your own joy. So a side project can also benefit your full time job, or vice versa. And it's a win win situation seriously. And just now you guys have already created a Christmas time in figma. And I'm sure that as human beings, we all have more skills than just being muscular, right? You can have any skills under the radar, you can be creating art it can be maybe you make the best chicken rice in the world, right? Think of how these skills you have, can actually cross with each other. If you like food, maybe try using figma to create food art, I don't know, like gifts means whatever. Just create things that make you happy that aligns with your own principles. And well, if you're waiting for permission to create something today, permission is granted. Not from me, but because you allowed yourself to create the things that you want to create. So yeah, um, ask yourself, what would you create today? Right, thank you. And this is the site project that I've been working on. And yeah, feel free to visit if you want to.

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