Seeing the Big Picture

Seeing the Big Picture – Huiping Iler's Icebreaker Speech at Toastmaster' International

By Huiping Iller

A few summers ago, I interviewed a summer student. He was doing his graduate studies in political science at the time. From his resume, I could tell that he had political ambitions. My question for him was, if you had a choice between working as an auto assembly worker and a position in the political science field with long term potential but less pay, which one would you pick? I thought this might have been a fairly difficult question but it did not take him long to reply. “I think I’d work for Chrysler’s any day, who can say no to good pay and benefits?”

His answer is totally legitimate and understandable. But he had just given me an answer that is totally contrary to my whole life’s beliefs. I was asking myself: what about his career interest? Can he derive the same joy working at a job that he took just for money?

Hello, my name is Huiping Iler, a new member at Toastmaster’s. I believe the most valuable gift I received from my family, is the lesson of never forgetting to look at the big picture. For me, a job is more than just a means to earn money and provide for my family. It is an activity that I spend a great deal of time on, so it better be something that I enjoy. I agree with the saying, “do what you love and the money will come.” To take on a job just for money sacrifices personal happiness, and is not in the long term interest of one’s well being, in my opinion.

I grew up in the suburb of an industrial city in southern China. My parents both worked for a tractor factory and we lived in a community on the factory compound. My mom practiced medicine at the factory hospital and my dad was a plumber and then a tractor salesman. I have a sister who is 18 months younger than me. My childhood memory is fairly blank. We did not have toys. My mom took me to work when I was a young baby. Her patients would hold me while she was occupied. When I was ten, I asked to live at school with other kids that were boarding there. My parents agreed, and since then I have not lived at home.

Being away from home all of my adolescence and adulthood gave me lots of freedom, as you can imagine. I had plenty of opportunities to draw influence from sources other than my parents. I did pretty much what I pleased. My teachers did not have the time to closely monitor me and my parents were away at home. I was sometimes described as a wondering underachiever who did not pay a lot of attention to school. I was immersed in being my philosophical self and constant struggle with severe acne and the impact it had on my self esteem as a young woman. Nevertheless in my own absent-minded way, I finished school, top of my class all the way through university. That absent-mindedness seems to have accompanied me through many stages of life and became my signature style.

My life took a turn when I moved to Windsor, Ontario to pursue my Master’s in Communication Studies. I barely remember what I learned during the three years at the University of Windsor. I was struggling; people in Canada think and write differently than what I was used to; my papers were not well received by my professors; I did not know how to do research; I had never used a computer; I did not have enough money so I had to look for jobs on campus to support myself; I had severe gall stone attacks; my family and friends were far, far away.

I came out of graduate school with a Master’s Arts degree, a boyfriend by the name of Ryan Iler and a permanent resident status that allowed me to look for a job. After a couple of short term clerical positions including one at the Multicultural Council, I started my own translation business. The blend of enormous freedom as well as responsibility associated with running your own business was perfect for me. I knew I had found my calling from the get-go. I realized I had stumbled upon this perfect platform, one that allowed me to fully realize my potential and develop myself. It is a playground that I never had as a kid, a place where I could do whatever I wanted – be as lazy or as hardworking as I please, or be the very best that I could be.

My journey as an entrepreneur and a person is not without struggle. My accounting was a mess; I had high employee turnover; I did not know a thing about marketing and sales; becoming a mom brought on a new set of challenges. There were numerous occasions I felt overburdened. I felt like raising my hands and admitting that I couldn’t live up to the challenge.

What kept me going was what I saw in the big picture. I saw a gateway to total personal and financial freedom; I saw a competent, agile business person emerging from my half sleeping, absent-minded self; I saw endless opportunities. After my wounds healed, I looked in the mirror and found myself never looking better.

Part of seeing the big picture meant asking questions like these: what kind of life do I want to live? What makes me happy? How do I create a win-win situation for everyone around me, including my employees, clients, and those that are close to me? Through seeking answers to these questions, I have carved a clear path for my self and my life. Occasionally I wander off my path, but I do always come back.

I relish learning and vow to be a better person tomorrow than today; I enjoy being challenged – I am a living example of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; I long to become a beautiful person inside and out. Most of all, I cherish being surrounded by love and the relationships I have built with people around me. Thank you.


On August 12, 2010, posted in: Miscellaneous by