An Interview with Yean Foong
This interview was first published on Coffee Times Substack
Hey guys! Another week, another interview! This week, we have Yean Foong (M.Ed.). Yean often posts book recommendations and reviews often, along with lessons she’s learned about habits, mindset, teaching and learning, health, parenting, and more. Her Medium profile is a library full of book reviews, wisdom, and lessons from these books and her personal lived experiences. It’s a gem!
Hi Yean, welcome to Coffee Times. Would you like to say something to our readers on Substack?
Hi, Ashley. Thank you for allowing me to be an interviewee because I often play the opposite role. Hello to all readers on Coffee Times and Substack, and I wish you well.
In your about me story, you’ve written about the various sides of you. Besides the range of topics you write about, how do you think each of these different sides of you reflects in the way you write?
Life experiences are the best source of inspiration in my writing endeavour. My role in being a trainer and teacher enabled me to write about learning and teaching, while being in entrepreneurship gave me ideas to write about motivations and habits.
The world we are living in offers myriad sources of inspiration. We could never run out of ideas to write and create.
Do you wish to write more often in Chinese, your first language, besides publishing books in Chinese? Why did you choose to write on Medium in English?
I have been writing in both languages on different platforms. I write in Chinese on Facebook and have a YouTube channel where I share tips and hacks on effective learning (also in Chinese).
I was a reader first on Medium, and when I read more about writing on Medium, I thought, “why don’t I give it a try?”, and voila, here I come writing on Medium. Since I have been using Chinese on Facebook and YouTube, I want to focus on writing in English on Medium and LinkedIn.
Currently, I am working on a book about note-taking in Chinese and planning for another book about teaching number sense in English. Hopefully, I can publish the Chinese Ebook by December.
My published Ebooks (in Chinese)
You’ve published books and you write actively on Medium. What are your goals as a writer, and how do you define writing success? Do you think you’ve achieved them yet, or are there more than you want to work towards?
I still don’t feel comfortable calling myself a “writer”. Guess I am still finding my way to become one.
First, my writing goal is to get to know more about myself. Writing is a great way to tap into one’s inner world; for me, writing is thinking in slow motion.
My second writing goal is to influence people through words, and I want to help people realise their potential in whatever they aspire for. I am still far from achieving my goals, but I know I am on the right path. I need to practice more; writing different topics will help me become a better writer.
You wrote this piece titled ‘You Are What You Write’. Putting your writing goals aside for this question, what type of writer do you wish to be seen as by your readers?
Well, I would leave this part to my readers. I believe in “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, so I am what they see me through my writing. I could be anyone — crazy boss, self-help addict, amateur writer; let the list goes on. It is boring to get fixed in just one role.
You’re a parent, teacher, trainer, entrepreneur and writer. How do you manage your time (I’m guessing routines?) and what are some of the biggest challenges of these different roles?
Honestly, I can’t manage all roles at once!
Being aware of how I use time is the key to productivity. I did use routines to help me manage my work and personal improvement, but a routine is not magic that makes my life perfect — life is never in perfect balance. I spent most of my waking time at work(workaholic confession!), but I still managed to allocate time for regular exercise and for my family.
I spent less time writing recently due to work, and I did feel guilty! But now, work comes first on my list of priorities.
You read ebooks, physical books and audiobooks. Which is your favourite?
I still prefer physical books. Nothing beats the feeling of flipping pages. Audiobooks are the best companion for long drives.
With the number of books you read every month, how do you learn and apply lessons from every book and prevent information overload, given that there are other sources to learn from as well?
We could never overlearn. My trick to remembering what I’d read is to apply the lessons to my daily life as soon as I read them. For instance, I once read a book by Dr Joe Dispenza, who shared his self-healing experience. He cured himself by vividly imagining a healthy spine (his spine was seriously injured in an accident.). It might sound too magical to heal himself from serious spine injury by just imagination and meditation, but I still decided to give it a try. Coincidently, I had a sprained ankle when I read this, so I practised and imagined a healthy ankle (I even searched the images of the ankle’s muscle to aid my imagination).
It didn’t heal my ankle instantly, but I suffered less (for not worrying about my injury). I apply this tactic every time I get sick or injured. It is a great way to redirect my attention, allowing me to focus on other things and not on my pain.
I have read a lot of books that help me to become better, and I apply them to my life:
- Adopting a growth mindset (Carol Dweck’s Mindset)
- Aware of how I use my attention (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow)
- Develop and apply grit in work and life (Angela Duckworth’s Grit)
- Achieve calmness from within through meditation (Jay Shetty’s Think Like A Monk)
- Be consistent in anything I started (Brad Stulberg’s Peak Performance)
- Apply scientifically proven way to learn (Henry L. Roediger’s Make It Stick)
The list goes on.
I love to learn from reading, but it is not my only learning source. I learned to use various software like Adobe Illustrator, Microsoft Office, Wondershare and others through watching related videos.