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Jason Leow ~
Jason Leow ~

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Creating through a crisis

There’s a scene in Iron Man 3 where Tony Stark was having a panic attack from the work as a superhero, and he called Harley, the kid who sheltered him while he was hiding from his enemies. Harley goes console Stark, and said, “You’re a mechanic, right? Why don’t you build something?”

That line really stuck with me. Floated around in my subconscious.

Then it appeared as a mini-epiphany. I’m not sure when this happened, but there’s a repeating pattern that I observed about how I cope with crisis. And it’s about building something.

First it was a chronic medical condition in 2018 (which I had since recovered from, thankfully). While I was seeking treatment, I wasn’t taking on paid projects then, but I continued to work. In fact, it was that same time that I tried out the 12 startups in 12 months challenge. I called it #1mvp1month. I didn’t end up making 12 products, but was close – 8 products. That was a strange experience, because on one hand, I was going through a low period in terms of health and mental wellbeing. But yet I was creating like nobody’s business.

Then in 2019, in a bid to get my health back, I turned to keto and intermittent fasting. Hard as f**k, trying to stop eating carbs. But I did. In the process of changing my diet and my health, I made a product called Keto List Singapore – a directory of keto resources and links. That helped me in a big way, and now it’s a little side business.

Then, COVID-19 came. Complete topsy-turvy of life. I’m safe at home, but also stuck at home. For someone who enjoys being outside, what can I do to cope? I create. I made products again - websites, apps, software to help people in the pandemic. Like a man possessed, I kept making. In the end I made a total of 11 products!

Some examples of the 11 products I made:

Dabao Dash - a self-help community board of offers and requests, matching hawkers and small F&Bs with delivery riders affected
Majulah Belanja - an offers/requests board for to help match donors with employers and migrant workers.
VisualAid - translated illustrations to help healthcare workers communicate better with migrant worker patients.
Grant Hunt - A chat bot to find grants for charities and non-profits in Singapore.

I realised that the intensity of my creating is directly proportional to how challenged I am in a crisis, or inversely proportional to how low I feel. I guess I needed something to balance it out. Creating always felt energizing and uplifting. It gives life, right when I need to feel more alive. It’s like I can almost hear Harley say that to me over the phone (though I’m under no illusions of being a superhero):

“You’re a maker, right? Why don’t you make something?”

Damned hell I will.

Follow my daily writings on Lifelog, where I write about learning to code, goals, productivity, indie hacking and tech for good.

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