Dr. Yvonne Sum
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I consider myself a bit of a global product: I was made in Sydney Australia, exported to Malaysia when I was 2 years old, recalled to Australia (hopefully no major defects that an Aussie attitude will not fix), 1.5 decades later, and re-packaged for the global marketplace. Currently I am being held in Qatar (strategically placed in the world so I can get to most places of the globe within 8 hours’ flight, and only need travel long- haul to get to Melbourne (12 hours) or Houston (17 hours).
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
I always wanted to be around people: I was energised by people. I loved being with people. I loved learning from them. My passions revolved around people – and how to learn to get them to live their highest potential.
So it is hardly surprising that when I was 6 years old, I told my grandmother that I wanted to be the mother of 100 children. To which she wisely replied (with a twinkle in her eye): “You will have to start straight away, my dear … and hope to live long enough to accomplish such a feat.”
At 12 years old, I wanted to be a nurse – as I had been reading story upon story of heroines who served as nurses in the war. I adored Florence Nightingale. Mostly I felt that nurses provided great comfort when people (patients and their families) were at their worst.
When my 18th birthday came around, I had fallen in love with the prospect of being a journalist. I had been involved as the editor of my school newspaper (that I founded) and was busy on the school magazine team. My projects took me to meet many people in the community whom I loved interviewing and learning from. Sadly, I had fallen out of love with the typewriter (this was pre-word processing via a pc or notebook…) by the time I had to sign up for my University degree. I queued up to join the ranks of the beloved (NOT!) profession – the dental surgeon – via a short sojourn in the Royal Australian Air Force as a Pilot Officer in the Medical Corp. Why? Well, I thought I could work hands-on more with people and less with paperwork (as I did not have to deal with the dreaded typewriter) and there was a certain romantic ideal that I could become a heroine saving my patients from (pulpal) death and waging my war against the epidemic of dental anxiety and phobia in the community!
By the time I was 30, I was getting traction in my battle against Dental Anxiety through my roles as a Media Spokesperson for the Australian Dental Association (in my attempt to re-brand The Dentist in our Community as a public friendly educator and motivator of DIY self-help health – after all, most of dental disease was preventable), an Educator / Mentor for University of Sydney Dental Undergraduates and Post-Graduates, and a dental entrepreneur who ran practices that aimed to deliver quality healthcare that was engaging for both patient and team member.
However, it was not until I turned 34, when I faced a remarkable turning point in my life that put me in the best role ever. I became a parent to my little boy Jett and two years later, his sister Xian. I realised that my calling was to learn leadership from first-hand parenting – so I may help the world reach their highest potential by working with the parents.
So began my empirical research into ‘Parents as Leaders’ – and conversely ‘Leaders as Parents’…. which took me down my current path as a Leadership Coach, Certified Speaking Professional and Author.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
That parents have all the answers!
4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?
Becoming a parent.
Discovering NLP on my journey to understand our human condition.
Independence as a 16-year-old living with my sister in Sydney.
5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?
It is a perfect complement to ALL of the above. Some of us still love the touch, feel and smell of a newly printed book……I am also an avid blogger, reader of online articles, and enjoy being a guest or host on TV, radio, podcast, webinars, and other multi-media …. bring it on!
Intentional Parenting How to Get Results for Both You and Your Kids was written as a conversation with the reader who may have had some concerns like me. You see, I was initially a reluctant parent because I thought I was totally fulfilled in my career and needed nothing more. The perfectionist in me erroneously hypothesised that I had to subtract other parts of my life to be able to do parenting properly. Until my decision to be less concerned about being the perfect parent but to be the observant learner of my children did I find I could not only love and support them to be the best human beings they can be, but it simultaneously paved the way for me to re-discover the genius in me. I am excited to share my learning insights on this personal transformational journey -and hoped readers will find this a useful piece to reflect on.
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
Be the best human being you can be – don’t short-change the world by selfishly keeping your genius hidden and unexpressed.
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
My parents, Jerry and Alice Sum. It is through their Role Modelling that “Parents are Leaders”. It was always a learning partnership from the get-go. It took me to have my own children before it dawned upon me the ingenuity of their methods.
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
Be the best human being I can be – so I don’t short-change the world by selfishly keeping my genius hidden and unexpressed.
Be clear of your outcome: What do you want?
Take action: Just Do It!
Be alert: Observe keenly the results of your actions.
Keep measuring: Make sure the results are on track with your outcome.
Be flexible: You may need to change actions to get your outcome.
Manage your energy:
Passion + Persistence + Perspiration = Inspirational Outcome
Dr. Yvonne Sum, thank you for playing.
About the Contributor
John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French, Korean and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for over twenty-five years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au.