Contrary to the usual quote that goes by ‘Hard work beats talent.’ Melissa believes in ‘努力在天賦面前不堪一擊’ roughly translating to ‘Hard work is nothing infront of talent.’ ‘I feel that we are over embracing working hard and giving the world the illusion that if a person did not succeed or do well, it is because he/she did not work hard enough. But perhaps, they might be working hard on the wrong things? Find something that you are talented in and work hard from there.’
Melissa Neo has always had her creative inclination even from her early years. Her first commission work was at 15, a design for a Taiwanese pianist. On creative writing, she used to run a blog where she uploads slices of her life both in drawings and text. She maintains a playground for her creations online where she designs and sells merchandise. ‘I would like to keep it as a subsidiary platform for doing crazy fun things for the sake of art... and of course fun.’ True to her belief, she honed her talent in the creative field and decided to work hard on it - the beginning of Monkey Creatives.
Taking the leap
‘Do I set up monkey creatives, bite the bullet, and have the flexibility to unleash my creativity to do projects the way I envision them to be, or do I join an established company and have a stable income.’ A common predicament many entrepreneurs struggle with in the beginning is making the decision to take the first big step - starting their own venture. Melissa had a stable job and she knew that money would be a big factor venturing into a business of her own.
A thing that helped with her decision-making? An excel sheet. What more organized and logical way to do it than listing down the pros and cons side by side and weighing the factors in. ‘I created an excel sheet with all of the pros and cons of both paths and rated how much each of these matters to me. This has always been the way I do decision-making.’
After being convinced that this was a rare chance that one just has to grasp, working on something you want, Monkey Creatives was then founded in October 2021. Together with her ex-colleague Ying from a Swiss event agency. They used their difference in years and distinction in experience to their advantage. Filling the gaps where the other may lack. Monkey Creatives use clear logical steps to help bring their ideas into reality. ‘We pride ourselves on always delivering creative ideas that our clients would never think of.’
A step out of the comfort zone
As the famous saying goes: ‘A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there.’ Melissa had to learn this in her journey of progress in public speaking. A feat that might come normally to others but a task to some, specially for introverts like Melissa herself.
One of her first presentations a few months back, left an impression on Melissa. It was for a project that she was really passionate about, and something that Monkey Creatives really wanted to work with. She knew the deck inside and out being the one who had come up with most of the ideas - from the design, visuals and presentation itself. But things took a turn, her delivery was not up to par as she would have wanted it to be. The incident affected Melissa. She felt like she let her team down and it took a toll on her self-esteem. Fortunately, she was surrounded by a supportive team. Despite the previous episode, her team even encouraged her to present again and again to overcome the fear and get better at it. Now she finds time to rehearse a presentation several times, prior to it. She tries to take things slightly less seriously to minimize the fear in future public speaking. ‘Never be ashamed to make mistakes and look stupid.’
Today Monkey Creatives is steady and thriving, packed with projects and pitches. Equipped with resources and international experience, they are able to deliver high standards and tight timelines. ‘Our project calendar is pretty much packed till the end of the year and we are hiring to grow the team.’
This goes to show that believing in oneself can spur one to greater heights. May it be from following your gut instinct to start your own venture; or to trusting that you will nail that presentation. The recipe of success has plenty of ingredients; self-trust definitely being one of them.