The Moments That Define Us

Gordon Fong
Co-hosted by Datacenta
5 min readNov 29, 2023

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The Worst Business Entrepreneur Presentation Ever

Defining moments may not shape us directly, but they position us for others to see who we truly are.

Our lives are filled with occasions that shape us. Finding your partner, choosing university, learning to drive. What about our professional journeys?

At the end of 2019, at the Shelley Theatre (the one with a connection to Mary Shelley of Frankenstein fame), I stood up in front of over 120 people to deliver a deeply personal talk.

I laugh as I write this because people were lovely on the day and gave me some constructive feedback in that they loved the content, but said I could have given people guidance at the beginning in what I was going to cover.

That would have helped them with the story telling journey which must have been part tension and part torture. This is because what I thought was 20 minutes when practiced turned out to be 50 minutes in the end.

The talk was called “The Worst Business Entrepreneur Presentation, Ever.”

I didn’t tell people how to scale up, triple their business or how I sold for millions. What I did tell people was about my early childhood, its impact on an already introvert person, that became a business cofounder and accidental managing director.

I was an MD that didn’t like to be seen, that didn’t get out there for business, that wasn’t confident in the meeting and networking norms. Not until I decided to change it, after taking time to understand why, and then step forward, at my own pace once I realised my biggest asset.

My biggest asset was what I used to hate my parents for as a child. My biggest asset was what drew the bullying, the racist comments, and being spat on in the street. That led to it being safer to be hidden than to be seen.

My biggest asset now, is being seen. It’s a joy to be asked “Are you Gordon Fong?” although it felt embarrassing at first until I understood what it was to become “known”.

In Hong Kong

Basically, I hated my parents because of their heritage, because they were Chinese, and that made me Chinese and a target in 1980s Britain for those that were anti-immigration. It took so long for me to address that sense of “self-squashing” to coin a phrase from Trisha Lewis.

I suppressed myself for so long. I also see it in today’s British Born Chinese, from their Facebook posts but at least some are writing books and making videos about their experiences whilst they are young. It wasn’t until I was approach fifty that I was close to facing up to it.

There is the saying “We all have a book in us”, but at this stage in life, it was more of a talk that I wanted to share.

Having been part of the You Are The Media learning community for several years, I had built my confidence up in terms of showing up in real life, the content I produced, and my social media accounts. That confidence led me to say to Mark Masters, I want to do a talk, when he was thinking of ideas to close the year off.

YATM Community

The timing aligned perfectly. I had a platform for this personal breakthrough. I also wanted to put something back into the community, to show the value I got from it, and my personal progression. This talk became a case study of moving from the back of the room to the front.

Let me recap the key elements from the presentation that day.

✅ For many people the 80s has a fond nostalgia for the music and (bad) dress sense. I remember it for skinheads and the National Front.

✅ I didn’t have any roles models, and the names of Ken Hom, Bruce Lee and David Yip (The Chinese Detective) were cultural touchstones for others.

✅ I was the accidental Managing Director that firmly belonged to the #3AMclub. I shared the dark moments of deep worry over whether the business will make it through the next day as salaries, suppliers, VAT, PAYE and corporation tax was due. I would not be surprised if February had the highest recordings of business owner suicides.

✅ At one point I knew I had to make a concerted effort to step forward and represent the business. I had already done so in the community when it came to social media. People started to recognise and know the name of Gordon Fong.

✅ The hardest slide was a green Monopoly house on a white background. It choked me up.

✅ I shared how my younger brother, at school, was told to go back to where he came from, not by a peer, but by a teacher.

✅ I shared how where I live, and I know I talk about it a lot in other posts, is a place where I can truly call Home. Home, isn’t just a place where you live. It is a place where you feel safe, welcomed, engaged with, treated equal and want to contribute to. Southbourne is my home.

On reflection, the underlying theme emerges as RESILIENCE.

The “takeaway” from the talk wasn’t spring rolls and beef noodles, although I did play that pun on the day, is one perseverance, taking small steps and seizing that opportunity to share your story amongst friends.

The moments that define us are usually dressed in difficult decisions, hard work and making that stand when the time is right.

At Regent Centre in Christchurch, just before the lights went out in 2021.

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Gordon Fong
Co-hosted by Datacenta

Lives in Southbourne, business locations in Bournemouth and Winfrith. Web, hosting and consultancy.