My greatest take-aways from Shine Now 2020, Singapore’s largest youth conference

The event has really given me so much food for thought.

Meagan Goh

Afraid of cats, but learning to be brave. Would rather live in a fairytale.

Published: 30 November 2020, 3:28 PM

Returning after its debut last year, SHINE NOW 2020 is a two-day “unconference” that aims to empower youths to pursue their passions and chart out their own paths.

The event, organised by Gushcloud in partnership with the National Youth Council (NYC), was broadcasted live from *SCAPE over the weekend Nov 28 to Nov 29. 

Since this was my first time attending a virtual event, I was extremely excited to see what it would bring and was ready to be greatly inspired.

In conversation with Benjamin Kheng

The first programme I tuned in to was a conversation with local singer-songwriter Benjamin Kheng. He shed light on the music and entertainment industry in Singapore, as well as his personal experiences. 


With his quirky personality and great sense of humour, Benjamin made it easy for listeners to give him attention. PHOTO CREDIT: SCREENSHOT VIA NOWACADEMYSG


While on the topic of success, he said: “The yardstick of success is constantly moving, especially for us Singaporeans because we’re cultivated in a way to always be chasing the next thing, that your self-worth is always tied to your latest endeavour.” 

I couldn’t agree more with what he said. Personally, I’m almost always not content with my achievements, or rather, my contentment is always temporary because I would find myself worrying about my next step forward. 

And although there is nothing wrong with wanting to achieve greater things, I think what’s more important that I’ve learnt is to be content with ourselves and not let our achievements determine our self-worth.  

Benjamin went on to share about a time in 2017 where he felt burnt out and had to take some time off. He made use of the time to do things he enjoyed such as sports and that really helped him to get back on track. 

This gave me the re-assurance that it is normal to feel unmotivated and completely exhausted from time to time. I learnt that when that happens, you should allow yourself to switch things up a notch – don’t just stick to one thing and never limit yourself! 

Benjamin also shared an interesting analogy in which he referred Singaporean artists to as dandelions. This is because dandelions are very resilient and they can grow through anything, even concrete. 

With the music industry being such a small scene in Singapore, being a local artist is definitely not an easy job. But with resilience, like a dandelion, there’ll always be a way out.

The changing landscape of entertainment

Next, I watched former K-pop star turned artiste Tasha Low and singer-songwriter Jaye discuss their creative processes as an entertainer and how Singapore’s entertainment industry is developing. 


As a fan of K-pop, I really enjoyed this one! PHOTO CREDIT: SCREENSHOT VIA NOWACADEMYSG


Both parties agreed that digitalisation is becoming a huge part of the entertainment industry, which would help artistes to reach out and build connections with more people. It will also provide more platforms for entertainers to showcase their work.   

When asked about their creative processes and how they keep up with the ever-changing industry, Jaye said: “I’ve always been a big fan of originality and although I think I can be weird sometimes, with my artistry and songs, I try not to let the trends get into my art and I strive to be myself.” 

I really admired Jaye for his belief in staying true to himself. I think not just artistes but people in general who have originality are very respectable, especially in this day and age where it can be hard to be yourself because we are easily swayed or influenced by social media. 

As for Tasha, she lives by a quote from her previous manager: “Your efforts will never betray you”. She believed that as long as you’re willing to put in effort, it will show in your work. 

Both of them also mentioned that it takes a lot of trial and error, and a ‘never say die’ attitude in order to survive in this industry. 

If there’s one thing that really resonated with me, it would be experiencing creative blocks. As a writer, I experience writer’s blocks sometimes and trust me, it is not fun at all. But what I’ve learnt when that happens is to take a break. 

Sometimes an idea or inspiration only hits when you’re onto something that is totally not related to work at all. Tried and tested by Jaye and Tasha, I think it is safe to say that taking breaks is indeed effective.  

Their advice for the next generation of entertainers is simple yet valuable – be yourself and be adaptable. 

The influence of influencers

Lastly, I tuned into a panel talk with the stars of the talk show Just Saying – Dew Francis, Jade Rasif and Munah Bagharib – as they discussed what life is like and what it means to be an influencer in this day and age. 


I like how they were so real and honest about everything, just like how they would be on their own talk show. PHOTO CREDIT: SCREENSHOT VIA NOWACADEMYSG


The three speakers came to the agreement that the modern definition of an influencer is blurred because it seems anyone with a substantial amount of following on social media is now considered one. 

However, there’s so much more to being an influencer than just a large following. People naturally have higher expectations for influencers because they look up to them, so it is important for influencers to use their platform wisely and know what they stand for. 

Many people also have misconceptions that all influencers have it easy. Though these people can’t be faulted for having such misconceptions, especially when an influencer has an admirable feed or a fancy lifestyle, we mustn’t be so quick to judge based on what they choose to reveal about themselves online. 

What most people don’t see behind all that glamour is the hard work these influencers put into achieving for example, a perfect shot for an Instagram post or the perfect backdrop for a YouTube video. 

The speakers then wrapped up the session nicely by emphasising the important role influencers play in today’s society and hence, should be responsible for what they put out online. 

Closing Plenary

Closing the two-day ‘unconference’ was the Guest-of-Honour for SHINE NOW 2020, Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), as well as Trade and Industry, Mr Alvin Tan. 

Mr Tan highlighted drive and imagination as two very important values that youths should possess in his closing speech. 

He started by asking viewers to imagine what they would be if they could be anything in this world. He then cited Fauzi Aziz, influencer and lead marketer at The Smart Local, as an example of folks who are self driven. Fauzi was also a guest speaker of day one and he conducted a workshop on digital content strategies. 

Mr Tan said: “He started off as an intern as I did many years ago and he cleaned the toilets, stocked the pantry and also fed the cat. With all of these he started to build capability, resilience and now he’s doing well.” 


Mr Tan assured youths that the MCCY and NYC have many schemes and programmes to help equip them with jobs and skills for the post COVID-19 world. PHOTO CREDIT: SCREENSHOT VIA NOWACADEMYSG


“We have our YouthTech schemes where there are about 1,000 (vacancies) and you can help at social sectors and community digitalise. We have the Youth Corp internship schemes, there are about 300 of those placements where you can spend six months interning.” he said.

As the saying goes ‘actions speak louder than words’, Mr Tan also encouraged youths to practice what they preach about community needs by sending their ideas into the Youth ChangeMakers grant to turn them into reality. 

“We’re not just keen on ideas, we’re also keen on action. And so the National Youth Council has set up a Youth Action Plan which is now in its second season. We have about 50 people pitching this January and they have amazing ideas ranging from greenery and sustainability, future of work, youth mental wellbeing and supporting the vulnerable,” he said. 

Overall, I enjoyed my weekend tuning into SHINE NOW 2020. As a youth, I felt that it has provided me with clarity and confidence for my future endeavours. I’m definitely looking forward to SHINE NOW 2021!

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