The flexibility that work-from-home offers, teaching computational thinking to kids at an early age, and the importance of family. I talk to Steven Tong on how he navigates through work, personal, and family life.
Steven Tong has more than two decades of experience in technology - starting from a solutions architect and IT consultant, to investor at SG Innovate and StartupBootcamp and now, leading innovation as Head of SAP.io Foundry in Singapore. He is a genuine, warm, and welcoming person who is a father to a nine-year-old daughter and a husband to his entrepreneur-couples therapist wife.
Steven talks about the importance of finding a company that values work-life balance. His previous work experiences allowed him to work on a flexible schedule. This gave him the freedom to work around his own schedule and have time for family despite the hustle. As much as work is important, family must always come first. He also wants to teach his daughter the value of family and to empathize with others.
Steven also shares the early stages of her fatherhood journey. His daughter was born prematurely, and it was very challenging for him and his wife. Fast forward to now, he is starting to introduce his daughter to the world of tech. He teaches her coding for the benefit of computational thinking, which he believes is helpful in daily life. He shares, “When we teach our kids, we learn from them too.”
To get in touch with Steven Tong, find him on LinkedIn: https://sg.linkedin.com/in/steventong.
Don’t forget to head over to www.parents.fm to stay up to date with new and previous episodes, join our community of parents in tech or drop me a line.
Thanks for listening to the Parents in Tech podcast with me, your host, Qin En. We hope you were inspired on how to raise kids and build companies. To catch up on earlier episodes or stay updated with upcoming ones, head over to www. to join our community of parents in tech. There, you can also drop me a question, idea, feedback or suggestion. See you next time!
- [00:40] - Introduction of today’s guest, Steven Tong
- [01:21] - Can you tell us more about your family?
- [02:54] - Life in the USA and Steven’s married life
- [04:42] - When did children come into the picture?
- [05:48] - What is it like to deliver a premature baby in a foreign country?
- [09:04] - Advice for young parents who will go through a premature birth
- [10:08] - Finding a support system
- [13:42] - Steven’s wife’s journey as a couple’s therapist and relationships coach
- [15:06] - Sharing the parenting workload
- [19:15] - Steven’s stay in China for work
- [20:28] - Phases of his daughter’s growth
- [24:44] - Tech tools that can be used in parenting
- [26:33] - Coding classes for children
- [27:41] - If you were going to write a book for your children what would it be about?
- [28:20] - Value for family
- [29:31] - What lesson did you learn from your kid?
- [30:33] - Lessons learned as a parent in tech
- [31:33] - Connect with Steven Tong
TRANSCRIPTION FOR EPISODE 5
Qin En 00:07
I am Qin En and this is the Parents in Tech Podcast. Welcome to Season Two, where we interview dads who are technology company leaders, based in Southeast Asia. After hearing from moms in Season One, now it's time to speak to dads who are raising kids while striving in their careers. Let's find out the stories, challenges, and advice they have for us.
In this episode, we speak to Steven, head of SAP Foundry Singapore. Steven has more than two decades of experience in technology, starting from a Solutions Architect and IT Consultant to investor in SGInnovate and Startupbootcamp and now leading innovation at SAP.
Steven was one of the early believers and backers of the startup I co-founded at age 20 and he's one of the most genuine, welcoming people I know. Steven is a father to a nine-year-old daughter.
Qin En 1:14
Hey, Steven, welcome to the Parents in Tech Podcast. Very excited to have you on today.
Steven Tong 1:17
Thank you, Qin En.
Qin En 1:19
No, problem. So to begin with, could you share a bit more about your family?
Steven Tong 1:22
Sure. We are a relatively small family, so my wife, my daughter, who is nine years old this year, still studying in Primary 3. And we live together with my, my mom or rather my mom lives together with us. So a family of four in Singapore.
Qin En 1:39
That's very nice. So I got to take your back. How did you meet your wife?
Steven Tong 1:42
Well a really long time ago, interestingly enough, we are probably one of those cases where internet dating had proved out to be successful. So I met her through one of those internet dating sites that has since gone defunct. I can not even remember the site so I can't tell you what it is.
Qin En 2:00
The fact that you say site and not an app, you really reveal some of that.
Steven Tong 2:04
Exactly. It's not an app. It's nowhere like the Tinder or whatever, or Bumble or whatever that you call those apps nowadays. It was really one of those old-fashioned dating sites where you post a profile of yourself and then you write to the person through the site and then, that was how it all began.
Qin En 2:23
Nice. That's so fascinating. Okay. And when did you get married?
Steven Tong 2:28
We dated for, if I'm not wrong two to three years, I guess. We found that the chemistry was right. I think our goals were aligned and we got married around, 2008 if I'm not wrong.
A couple of months after we got married we relocated to the US because I managed to get a job post in the US and I stayed there for about 5+ years.
Qin En 2:54
Wow. Okay. So when you were in the process of getting prepared to get married, was this US move on the cards or was it something about-
Steven Tong 3:03
Qin En 3:03
Okay, so it wasn’t a surprise.
Steven Tong 3:03
Yes, yes. Exactly. It wasn't 100% confirmed. But this is definitely something that's in the works. So both of us were mentally prepared for that. Truthfully, if you rewind back in time there were a lot of major changes, marriage, new life together, setting up, a home family in a new country.
For me getting used to a new job. For my wife, getting used to not having a job, it's a lot to handle. And immediately the first year of our marriage,
Qin En 3:34
Wow, so what was perhaps one of the most memorable experiences or things that you can recall from, from their POV, where there was so much change. From getting married, moving and all of that?
Steven Tong 3:44
It's not exactly a bed of roses, to be honest, I think there were a lot of adjustments for both of us. I think it all managed to work out. Of course, we test the usual disagreements that we have, but they are all things that we mentioned among ourselves.
So nothing too big or dramatic, thankfully. There's also a flip side on things, right? Living in a new place, new experience, it makes life very interesting. Every weekend is a new experience so it’s great.
Qin En 4:18
Where were you in the US?
I was in Silicon Valley.
Qin En 4:19
Okay, so West Coast, Best Coast. I'm sure there's no shortage of things you could do on a weekend.
Exactly, exactly. And I'm very biased, having lived there for a long time but I think it's the best place in the US and that's most of the bulk for us.
Weather is great, very multicultural, not difficult to get used to life in a new country, actually.
I think it's the best place in the US and that's most of the bulk for us, weather is great, very multicultural, not difficult to get used to life in a new country, actually.
Qin En 4:39
Absolutely. I think it's one of the best places to settle in. But Steven when did children come into the picture?
We definitely want it with kids. Having to settle in a new country, it's not, “Okay let's enjoy ourselves for a while first.” And we did that. We'll travel around and stuff like that. But, at a point in time, we were not really getting any younger.
We are probably in our early thirties. So when we started trying to have kids seriously to be honest, it took a while probably a lot longer than what we anticipated. So lesson learned, piece of advice to young, younger couples out there. If, if you can try to have kids a lot, do it while you're younger. Kids may not come when you want them to. But, I think it was only in our fifth or sixth year of marriage that our daughter was born. So she was born in the US, and then shortly after that, we relocated back to Singapore.
Qin En 5:35
So this is really interesting, Because your daughter was born in US. There's a lot of horror stories that we hear about healthcare over there, expensive and all of that. Maybe, maybe tell us a bit more about what it's like, because I think for a lot of the audience, we are listening in the context of Southeast Asia and perhaps Singapore, where things are more known.
What is it like to deliver over there?
Steven Tong 5:58
Yeah, to be honest, this is a pretty dramatic story on my part, and, and I have to be very thankful to the US where we work. My daughter, she was born at 32 weeks, actually. So she was born prematurely. My wife was suffering from preeclampsia and I mean, long story short, the only way to cure the cure is to deliver the baby. There wasn't any choice, the associates were to be delivered about 32 weeks we were in Stanford Children's Hospital.
So honestly, it was the best hospital on the West Coast for kids. So we are super thankful that we are in the care of very experienced top-notch, physicians who were able to give us the care and advice that we need at a point in time.
So, it's true that the US has pretty bad medical system if you're unable to pay for it. But we were really lucky in the sense that we were able to get access to top-level care that my daughter, so because she was born prematurely.
But thankfully, Nothing serious. It's just that she has to be in the incubator to grow, to reach the point where she's able to be discharged off the hospital.
Qin En 7:08
Yeah, well, Steven, you got to take me through that journey. Perhaps we can share some of the emotions you felt, I'm sure this was a time of stress, a lot of anxiety yet. Tell me how, how was it like, especially also in supporting your wife would probably whatever you're feeling, she might be feeling 2, 3, 10x more.
It is. Plus to make things worse, we were living in a foreign area. Our family, they were not able to be there. So honestly, there wasn't much support that we can get.
There were some good friends that we know, so they try to help us the best that we can, but, well, we just saw of no.. to our ourselves, and to be honest, it's not really that bad. The good thing is, although my daughter she's premature she doesn't really have any health Issues.
But being a new and first-time parent and a very high-strung person, I'm actually really anxious almost everyday. First, I have to make sure that my wife, she's okay, recovering well, then, is she okay?
I think a lot of reading helps. So I became something like a semi-medical expert free for watching your kids and all these things. But it helps to address my own anxieties.
As the days went by, all these tasks that they have been doing on my daughter, everything that proves she’s okay. She is doing well. I think that really helped to soothe down my own anxiety in that sense.
And then honestly, given that my daughter was under the care of professionals in the hospital, that's actually not much for us to do.
All we could do as parents is just visit the hospital, make sure that she's doing okay.
And for premature babies, there's this practice in the US where they encourage you to bring the baby out of the incubator and then, have some skin contact to get engaged, and have some kind of a bonding with the parents. So there's all these usual activities that we did with.
At the end of the day, we are really very thankful for that.
Qin En 9:00
Yeah, I'm so glad. I'm so relieved to hear that. But looking back Steven, and let's say their parents are listening to this who potentially might experience this in future. What kind of advice would you give to them? If such a thing happens. Yeah.
Steven Tong 9:17
Honestly, I don't wish for us to have anything like that to happen, but I think at the end of the day, we do recognize that there are certain unforeseen circumstances that could happen. I guess it helps to really just, I know I have something to lean on. Whether is it family, religion, friends, or whatever.
Something that will kind of root for you or support you. That’s definitely what you’ll need in that point in time. Also, I think it's also about letting go.
So for me, I like to be in control of the situation, but this is clear case where there's nothing at all that we can do that will make a material difference.
So just learn to let go. Trust that, Hey, you are in the hands of somebody who's probably more qualified than you. They can bring the kind of help that your child will need and then just be that to provide the kind of support as best as you can to your spouse and to your child.
Qin En 10:05
Now, earlier, Steven, you mentioned about a support network. So what was that support network? What was the things that you leaned on to during that really challenging period?
Steven Tong 10:13
I guess the absence of family who, back home in Singapore and 16 hours time zone is really relying on, for example, religion. I'm a Catholic, I'm not one of those ultra religious Catholics, but I do try to practice my faith. So prayer, having friends, I guess all these things have helped me at my day-to-day.
Qin En 10:37
Makes sense. I'm glad that you’re now done with that incident and she’s just one month, your daughter grew up well. When did the move from US to Singapore happened? How old was your daughter? And tell me more about the transition. I guess it's another life-changer.
Steven Tong 10:49
It is man. I honestly, even before that, actually, there’s a more traumatic data that I probably should share here.
So the first time my daughter came back to Singapore, she was probably about six months. Six months almot, so also first flight. So there was all these staff.
Qin En 11:02
The bags, the diapers.
Qin En 11:03
So come to think of it, Qin En, it wasn’t all bad. So going back, something traumatic happened to us again. I'm not sure if you recall about, there was an airplane crash in San Francisco in 2008. So the plane soft-skii’d something like that. They had to basically shut down the whole route away.
So were in one of those places that were affected and we have to be rerouted to somewhere else. And, I mean, I was really anxious because we were running out of milk powder.
Honestly, my daughter she's premature. Babies cannot drink packet milk.
So that was really traumatic but hey, that's a side issue that it is interesting to share.
Qin En 11:40
Sorry. Do you manage the leh before your milk supply ran out, what happened?
Steven Tong 11:42
Thankfully, man. I’m honestly really thankful to the–
Qin En 11:47
So you've rushed through that.
Steven Tong 11:50
Exactly. I was like, Oh man, we have ran out of milk in them and in three hours in time, my daughter is going to start crying. What are we going to do?
Thankfully, they managed to clear the highway, re-route it back to San Francisco and guess what? We make it back home in time for the next feeding.
My God, Jesus. It this amazing, man.
But it was a really, a pretty anxious moment for us. I mean, we had no visibility on how long are we going to be stuck on the plane.
Qin En 12:20
Yeah, I know that sounds like such a small thing at the moment. It's just top of mind. Because your daughter is so young and they’re at the age where they can’t control themselves. So they might just go wailing on that and it gives you so much stress. So,okay, I'm glad that the little thing worked out.
Steven Tong 12:32
Exactly. After a couple of months later, we relocated back for good back to Singapore. And at that point, she wasn’t even one year old so her memory of the US were limited to her first year as a baby. First couple of months, actually, she celebrated her first year birthday in Singapore.
Qin En 12:51
Right. I see. I see.
So how was the transition back like? Because you left Singapore, you’re two people, you came back to Singapore, you’re three people. Was the transition challenging, adapting back to life here with a child?
Steven Tong 13:04
To be honest, we were really thankful that we are back because it's really very difficult for two of us to adjust and raise my daughter over there. And given the fact that she was premature. We all learn. We have to engage a nanny. A nanny cost a lot of money in the US.
And so coming back to Singapore is great. We have families who support us here. My finance-wise is a huge burden off of my wallet, which is great.
Qin En 13:31
Yeah, got it. Got it. Okay.
So since then, you're back in Singapore. I'm curious, because you also shared with me that your wife is a couples therapist or relationship coach. Maybe tell a bit more about her journey to that, because I recall you said that she wasn't working for a period when you guys moved to the US, how did she get into this? And of course, I would love to hear from your perspective. How was the impact?
Steven Tong 13:53
Sure. So she was Psychologist. So she was actually working at IMH, Institute of Mental Health, before we relocated to the US. So in the US, because of visa issues, you can't really work there. But then she found her calling in the sense that Hey, after dealing with mental pain patients, what's the next thing that she would do?
And thing that she became very fascinated with family relations and all that. And actually the US they were pretty good in this. So she may use all types of study at then lectures take courses, and basically acquire skills that will help her to go into this next stage of a professional career.
And then coming back, that's how she called herself into this particular job. So we be up for her practice over the years to where she is now.
Qin En 14:38
So your wife is an entrepreneur and you're working at a tech company. That's amazing. I think that that kind of balance, but in terms of parenting hours, how does it look like for both of you, because working in a tech company, working in your role and I think the things would move very quickly plus also for your wife to build out her own practice.
Those are things take time, take energy. So how does it look like, in terms of shared parenting workload?
Steven Tong 15:04
So, in my current role to be honest is, actually really family-friendly. And I have to give recognition and, my sincere thanks to my company, SAP. We are truly a family-friendly organization. So that helped me a lot in terms of building a work-life balance.
For my wife, because it's ultimately her own private practice and at the end of the day, she tries to arrange things such that she has limited clinical hours and there's enough time to balance the needs that our daughter might have.
So between the both of us, we are able to make things work. Plus, the fact that my mom is living with me, if we have someone who can help take care of things as well.
So it's, it's truly a blessing in that sense.
Qin En 15:50
Steven Tong 15:51
But before joining my current role in my previous role in another company at Rainmaking, the dark opposite of SAP, I was working pretty hard, pretty long hours. And there was a lot of travelling plus I was based in China.
I was traveling in and out of Singapore, to be honest. So that actually limited a lot of family time in that sense, which of course it will cause some challenge at the end of the day.
Then that's why I was very helpful to my wife for having some flexibility in her job and to my mom was able to help out.
Qin En 16:22
Got it. So, Steven, you mentioned about this family friendliness that SAP has. Can you define it, break it down for us? What family friendliness looks like?
Steven Tong 16:30
Sure, so we have this policy called flexwork policy, it's not the exact wording, but I guess get the meaning. In short, it means the ability to work anytime, anywhere. So, and even on a kind of a schedule that might make sense for you. It does not need to be 9-6. It doesn't need to be five days, you could compress what I was doing for four days.
If it may make sense for your, for your team, at the end of the day, we must make sure that this, whatever your work your choice of working hours are, it can not affect operationa issues. And you should be still in a position to deliver your deliverables.
Qin En 17:07
Steven Tong 17:07
But other than that, I think the organization is really flexible enough to recognize that people nowadays need not be confined to our office, or physical location for a defined work hours, which is great.
Qin En 17:21
So, if I'm hearing you right, it is a possibility that at a place like SAP, you can do a four-day work week, which is like the dream.
Steven Tong 17:29
Having said that, you do work the same number of hours, it's not that you won't last because of four days, yeah. But I think there's this really interesting policy that came out partly because of COVID-19.
When COVID-19 started, everybody started working virtually.
So there was always the question, Hey, if you are not in the office, will efficiency and productivity be affected? And the answer is definitely no. We were still able to achieve good results. We're able to meet the needs of our customers, and I guess the company is wise enough to think that, Hey, moving forward that there could be another way for people to work.
Qin En 18:04
Got it. So I hear that basically, there's quite a flag. Fair bit of flexibility, but maybe can you share one or two specific practices that your immediate team does that you find to be very helpful as a parent?
Steven Tong 18:16
So having the ability to work from home, I would say, it's really good. In the past, you'll have to wake up and then, you make your way to office and all that. Now, working from home changes a lot of things. I can walk my daughter to school. I come back immediately to start work, even though it's only like what, seven-something o’clock.
But likewise, I have the flexibility to end work earlier, which is helpful. Because sometimes I do have to go out to run errands, bring my daughter to classes and that sort of stuff. So it is very helpful in that sense. Plus, I get to see a lot of my daughter since I'm working from home.
And that, again, it's not something that is open to people who need to work full-time in the office. So it is an interesting benefit that came up because of COVID-19, this flexibility to work anytime, anywhere.
Qin En 19:08
That's awesome. I feel like it's almost like a 180 change for you. Someone in your previous role flying to China and maybe give us a set. How often were you in China? How often were you out of home?
Steven Tong 19:16
So let’s put it this way. I'm able to qualify for the top tier of the hotel loyalty member. So that tells you how many nights a year I spent in hotel rooms. Beyond that I'm actually staying in a regular rental apartment in China. So safe to say that I'm out of Singapore for at least half the year.
Qin En 19:36
Wow. So far more than half to now, just being able to do the small things, like walk your daughter to school, pick her up.I think that's such a, such a huge change. But it sounds like COVID, in that sense has done you good for you and your family.
Steven Tong 19:49
It's true. But I think it's also basically because of my own circumstances, the company is wise enough to recognize that technology can help in this current pandemic that we're in. But our productivity isn't affected. And for my job role, I basically worked with no partner. So all of my colleagues’ work base are all around the world.
So when I'm in the office, it doesn't really make a difference. They are not even in the same time zone as me, but as long as we are able to communicate by using technological tools, I guess, is, is enough to get the work done.
Qin En 20:24
Yeah. Makes sense.
Okay. So Steven, where is your daughter at, in terms of the phase or phase of growth? So I understand, of course she's nine, she's in primary school, but if I had to ask you to almost like chop up the journey into different phases, how would you describe the phase, the season she is in right now?
Steven Tong 20:42
I would say maybe she's beyond sickly, but basically maybe at a young, young tree stage. Babies are like a seed that is sprouting. What babies are supposed to do at a point in time is just basically grow. And that's basically, that's actually not much, I'll say real interaction that you can do with babies, not with the toddler stage, I guess that's where they started to learn things and start to develop emotions.
So they are at the young, settling, there’s growth there but very young, still very fragile. And that's why you need to really put in a couple of rules to help them manage things. But at the parenting stage, I guess women, it's not it's, Hey, she's able to do things independently, but she's definitely learning and acquiring new knowledge.
It's not a last time where I need to be around people all the time. But then she's also not the point where we can totally just leave her alone. So in that, in between stage where, it's kind of nice, she still cares enough about interacting with you. Not a teenager yet who doesn't want anything to do with you.
But not quite like a baby stage where honestly, there's not much real interaction or even at the toddler stage where there's interaction, but maybe not, not the kind where you– That's the most enjoyable.
Qin En 21:58
Fair fair. So, what moments right now, do you enjoy the most between father and daughter?
Steven Tong 22:05
I guess it's really to talk about things that I find interesting whether it live or had something that’s happening about work or something that we find to be entertaining or interesting like superhero movies, or what about you? it's, it's nice to be talking about things like that.
Qin En 22:22
Okay, give us an example, a recent example of something that you talked about..
Steven Tong 22:26
So I'm a kid at heart, so I do like to watch all these superhero movies. So we watched the recent Spiderman movie together. And watching a few, we kind of had a discussion about what we like or don't like about some of the scenes. Or why is the scene like that? And stuff like that.
So it's nice to talk about things like that.
But I also hope I got to talk about some more interesting, serious stuff, like cryptocurrencies, for example, then explain, what exactly is a Bitcoin? But I try to explain in layman terms and I don’t know if my daughter still find it interesting but since she's been hearing about this Bitcoin.
Qin En 23:11
Steven Tong 23:11
What exactly is a Bitcoin? It's a bit difficult to explain it.
Qin En 23:15
I've got to put you on the spot, Steven, can you try to recall what was the explanation you gave? Because the explanation to your daughter might be helpful for some of our audience too to understand what is Bitcoin.
Steven Tong 23:26
Sure. I mean, I don't go into the technical details, but I just use an analogy like, Hey, Bitcoin is like a digital version of gold. Now, gold, why is it valuable? Because somebody out there in the past decided that, Hey, this is something that's worth something and it is scarce. It's a finite amount of gold in the world, same thing like Bitcoin.
So, okay. Why, why then do we need to go something that's digital? It's not relying on gold. She asked about the advantages. You can use Bitcoin for like payment and, maybe at the utility that you can really use something like gold. I can’t really go on the street and Hey, I've got to pay you like 100 grand.
You can't do that. But Hey, I can send, like, $100-worth of Bitcoin to somebody else in the world. And there is a certain value there. So that's how I explain it to my daughter who somehow got bombarded with every business talking about Bitcoin when she's a kid.
I had no idea why that happened. But that's how all this got started.
Qin En 24:24
I see, I see. Well, who knows? Maybe she'll start asking for pocket money or crypto someday.
Steven Tong 24:30
Could be,could be. I tried not to go into the technical aspect. They buy important ideas to understand that, Hey, why exactly is this, this thing? Why do people put value in it?
Qin En 24:39
Absolutely. Absolutely. So Steven, you are a geek at heart as you shared. So do you use any tech tools in your parenting?
Steven Tong 24:46
Yeah. Absolutely. Even when my daughter was young, I tried to find interesting exquisite toys, but maybe not toys, but maybe educational that are fad for children. And I generally like to buy the products from startups. Partly to support the startups.
Probably because I do think that, Hey, whatever the process starts to bring up a more interesting compared to the commercial stuff that you get from big toy companies.
So it's all of those things that have worked well. Many come from the US where they mix something that's physical with a digital component to it, so that it's not just like playing on an app or something like that.
Qin En 25:26
So please enlighten us. What is a recent purchase? It can be a good purchase, a bad purchase, a purchase of regret, but just, tell us what are some of the tools, the toys that you have tried?
Steven Tong 25:36
I guess the, so it's not meant to be a product in Oz land, but I guess, this product called Osmo. O-S-M-O. They were acquired by the Indian tech startup. I think, unicorn actually, I bought it a couple of years ago. Basically what they have is they package together nice games that you can play on the on the iPad, but that involves some kind of a physical manipulation of objects.
So interesting for younger kids who are starting to learn. I call him by the all those fancy toys like Lego Mindstorms. Thankfully I didn't, but that's all that my daughter is not a fan of Lego. I don't actually like stuff, but I do send my daughter to coding classes and to solve people, robots, and all that.
Once she get her taste of what these toys are like in her class, there's no real need to buy it.
Qin En 26:25
True. Okay. The coding classes, how did that come about?
Steven Tong 26:30
As I said, I’m a geek at heart and I truly believe that children should learn coding, not necessarily coding, coding, but more to learn true coding experience about computational thinking and whether you want to learn Computer Science or not in the future. That's my point, it’s to acquire the ability to think and hopefully, be able to address technological changes that are coming in the years to come.
So that's how I got my daughter into learning coding. So she started when she was I think in Primary 1 or something like that. I think she enjoyed it and now, she’s still doing it.
Qin En 27:07
Yeah. I think that part of my enjoyment is it's also so true and so important. It sounds like that's something you've got her stuff on, but she's interested. And I think that's the most beautiful state to be in, that she enjoys and pursues it.
Steven Tong 27:17
Exactly. Yeah. I personally do not believe in forcing kids to do things that they don't enjoy. So my daughter doesn't learn any musical instruments because she's like me. We don't like playing music. We like to enjoy listening to music, but playing is not something that we like.
Do things that you enjoy.
Steven Tong 27:37
So, if you were good to write a book for your children, what would it be about?
Qin En 27:43
I guess for me, it’s something about values that she can hold on in life. Values could be, for example, respect and love for your family, having a resilient mindset, so that, that will help you to overcome any challenges you might have in life. And basically, hold true to these values that will hopefully you got you get you through your life journey. What those values are, I mean, I'm not in a position to comment on what they should be, but generally it should be something that resonate with you and your family.
Qin En 28:15
So perhaps, could you share one value that resonates very strongly with your family?
Steven Tong 28:18
For me, it's just generally love for the family.
I was really struck by this research from Dai Ren recently. So pure research survey, 17 or 18 countries, last year on what are the things that are important to you? So there are many factors–family career, material wellbeing, and it's interesting that in many countries around the world, even in the number one country for capitalism, the US, family actually scores number one as being to the respondents.
So it’s something that I would like my daughter to understand as well that, Hey, at the end of the day, whatever you want to do, whether you say you’re for career or whatever, at the end of the day, there must be something that you have to hold on to.
Family should be something that is important to you.
Qin En 29:04
Exactly. Well, I think that's very much the spirit behind this podcast, so I'm glad that you have these are values that I think it's not just unique to you and me, but I think also to all us here listening.
So, Steven, maybe also, can you share a time when your interaction with your children changed the way you work or even change the way that you became a parent? Because I think there's so many times as much as we are teaching our kids, we also learn from them. So was there a particular lesson that led to a change?
Steven Tong 29:33
I think, probably it enhances my ability to listen and not judge first. I mean, kids, especially at a younger age, you have to understand that they’re not quite there yet. You have to be more patient with them. It's not their fault. They are still learning. They are still growing. You must have the patience to listen to and try to understand why is it that they want?
What they are upset about? And try to answer where are they coming from. And this is, I think, a really valuable lesson that can be applied even in work, as well. Sometimes, we are too quick to come to some kind of judgment or come to the decision.
Try to take a step back to understand where the other party is coming from. Try to see things from their angle. And when you can do that, I think, it's a much better way to involve everybody in a wider work or outcome that you're trying, trying to achieve.
Qin En 30:27
Definitely, the idea of empathizing being able to put yourself in people's shoes.
So Steven, if to wrap up our conversation for today, give us one thing you have learned as a parent in tech, what would that be?
Steven Tong 30:37
Oh well, for me, quite honestly, it's really trying to achieve work-life balance. You're learning that at the end of the day, whether you work very hard, how many hours you put in, the company will always function without you. Work must go on. So it's important to also have a bit balance in your personal life.
I'm glad my organization recognizes the importance of that, but I think it's really important that individuals know that as well. I really hope no one comes with a situation where they’re working so hard in your entire life, that you felt that you have made it, but your kids don’t know or recognize you as a close person that they will like. I think that's a very sad case if it ever happens to anybody.
Qin En 31:18
True. First things first, know that you are truly, truly indispensable. I think so often at work we think we are, but actually we really aren't. But at home, there's no doubt that there's only one father to your daughter.
Steven Tong 31:31
Qin En 31:32
Well, this has been a really enjoyable conversation, Steven.
If some of our audience would like to connect with you, how can they best do so?
Steven Tong 31:38
Oh, just find me on LinkedIn. Search me on LinkedIn, Steven Tong. T-O-N-G.
I don't think there are many Steven Tongs working in SAP, especially SAP.iO. So yeah, I mean, just drop me a connection on LinkedIn.
Qin En 31:53
Sure, we'll find you there. Well, thank you so much for joining us on the show. It's a pleasure to speak with you.
Steven Tong 31:57
Thank you so much, Qin En. Glad that we are on.
Qin En 32:04
Thanks for listening to the Parents in Tech Podcast with me, your host, Qin En. We hope you were inspired on how to raise kids and build companies. To catch up on earlier episodes or stay updated with upcoming ones, head over to www dot parents dot fm to join our community of parents in tech.
There, you can also drop me a question, idea, feedback or suggestion. Once again, the website it's www.parents.fm.
That's all for this episode, folks. See you next time!