Welcome to another edition of “What’s Neue from 9 to 5”.
We here at Neue believe that every person out there has a story to tell.
This week, we find out What’s Neue with Adam Syed (@adamsyed_7), a Bruneian who never expected to be THAT kid on the Internet making videos.
Would you believe that he became who he is today, because his siblings told him to watch a Korean TV show?
You’re probably asking yourselves, “How does something like that happen? From watching a Korean TV show to becoming a vlogger and a filmmaker?”
Speaking to Neue, Adam said, “First a little backstory … I love Legos. I grew up building countless sets, whilst locking myself in my room for hours and displaying them with a proud smile on my face.
“I used to fantasise building skyscrapers and iconic monuments. I wanted to be an architect. However, that dream slowly faded away as I saw the requirements needed to become one.
“I was a smart kid in school, but I was lazy. I didn’t like the idea of having to go through an education system that uses grades to determine my future. So, I scrapped that dream and felt empty for a while.
“Mid-2015, my siblings recommended me to watch a Korean TV show called ‘Running Man’. This led me to discovering K-pop and dancing.
“Fast forward to July 6, 2017 (yes, I remembered the date), I created my IG account dubbed ’@adamxdance’. This became a meme around my school. Even before posting I had to learn how to edit videos which made me fell in love with filmmaking and vlogging.”
However, he had to deal with one issue: he always cared about what people thought.
According to him, this ended up restricting his creativity.
“And so, I taught myself to just simply ignore. And it pushed me to just creating a lot of content such as dance covers and vlogs,” he said.
“Obviously, my parents were reluctant with the whole idea of making videos for a living, since they grew up in an office job generation. But, after they saw my potential and the rise of young entrepreneurs opening up their own businesses, they got my back. And that was one of the biggest challenges for me.
“My advice to you reading this, don’t be afraid to fail, because you will learn from those mistakes to become a better version of yourselves.
“I always tell my subscribers and followers one thing, which is to not back down from hate or judgement. In life there are always people who you will not please. These people make up the minority of the population. The rest are just either your supporters or people who can be your supporter.”
Without further ado, let’s see how he responds to this week’s #Neue9to5 questions.
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This week we find out What’s Neue with Adam Syed @adamsyed_7, a Bruneian who never expected to be THAT kid on the Internet making videos. If you're wondering what video? Well, it's about the daily life of a Brunei JIS student. It has been viewed more than 100,000 times!! Click on 'Learn More' or visit the link in bio to find out what this Bruneian vlogger has to say in this week's #Neue9to5. Know someone who’d be perfect for the next interview? Nominate them by sending a DM to @whatsneue or tagging them in the comments. #WhatsNeue #AskMeAnything #Brunei #JustBruneians
The First 9 Questions:
1. What inspired you to get into vlogging? Can you tell us more about your YouTube channel ‘Adam Syed’?
Watching YouTube has been a big part of my life. I discovered how life changing it is just to create videos and post it on the Internet. I grew up watching three idols that I look up to – Casey Neistat, Peter McKinnon and Sam Kolder. Each of them has their own unique style of content but all have one thing in common which is filmmaking. I just love the art of telling a story through a camera lens rather than writing it out on a piece of paper for someone to read. Humans naturally prefer visual content because it’s much more intriguing to look at than reading a bunch of words.
Back to my story, I started vlogging whilst I was still in school. During that point in time, I had to balance my school life and making videos which was difficult, but it was worth it!
Honestly speaking, there aren’t that many active vloggers in Brunei who speak English and I think that being brought up in an international school (Jerudong International School, JIS) has given me the speaking advantage. I want to be able to reach as many people as possible since English is a universal language. At the same time, I want to promote Brunei’s culture and the country itself. I believe that it is my responsibility to represent for Brunei. And this is what drives me to keep vlogging and making videos!
2. In your opinion, what are the challenges of student life?
I personally believe that the education system is flawed in many ways. The traditional system of education was designed in the industrial age and is now outdated and ineffective. All students do all day is listen to instructions: sit down, take out their books and turn to a certain page number.
Time is extremely precious, and it is constantly being wasted. This results in the depreciation of motivation for students in schools, which leads to mental health problems. Students lack the level of autonomy they need. In today’s world, when you manage your own work, you make your own decisions. This is the complete opposite of what is done in school.
This sends a very dangerous message to children that they are not in charge of their own life. They just have to follow whatever is laid down instead of taking charge and making the most of their lives. This is the reason why students are bored and demotivated in classrooms.
Instead, what students should do are to list their personal goals in life. What career path they want to achieve and they work towards that goal. For example, if a student wants to become an entertainer, rather than having to learn ‘mandatory’ subjects such as maths and science, they could spend that precious time at a young age to build their skills that are essential to become an entertainer.
3. Is life tough being a teenager in Brunei?
Extremely tough. From my perspective, Bruneian teenagers have the tendency to stare at each other in public. I get a lot of stares for no particular reason. However, this can lead to people being very insecure with the way they look because they are afraid of being judged.
Bruneians love social media, especially teenagers. But the major issue is that for many teenagers their primary goal is to be popular. People would use terms such as ‘famous’ or ‘femes’ to label people with large followings on social media.
Everyone is always scrambling for popularity and are willing to do anything in order to gain an upper hand in a so-called “popular hierarchy battle”. This is very unhealthy and dangerous as it jeopardises relationships and friendships.
Many teenagers judge a person’s personality based off the number of likes, followers and how a person interacts with their audience, rather than speaking to them in person. Teenagers say that ‘famous’ people only reply to other ‘famous’ people. I personally don’t think this is entirely true. However, there are cases where people do that which is a bit sad!
It doesn’t matter how many likes or followers I have. It’s the relationships and friendships that I create on social media. I think people should stop caring about numbers and care more about how they treat other people.
4. What have you learnt in life (so far) that has had a profound impact on the way you view the world?
I learned that I need to SHOW RESPECT, HONESTY & USING THE CORRECT WORDS when meeting everyone. This is how I form the trust that I need in order to form strong relationships with others. Whenever there is dishonesty, there will undoubtedly be consequences. Time will be wasted and my reputation is at stake. I think Bruneians, specifically teenagers should think about their opinions before taking action. Many victims get hurt due to being ‘blackmailed’ or ‘exposed’ for not accepting someone else’s wants.
A lot of my followers message me asking for help and they all have one thing in common: people who they are talking to lack those three elements that I mentioned earlier.
I believe that we all should show some respect to everyone we meet and radiate positivity ?
5. What are your thoughts about the creative industry in Brunei? What do the youths have to give?
Very under appreciated. The generation that grew up in the early to mid-20th century in Brunei do not understand the struggles a creative has to go through in order to become good at a skill.
It’s like what Liyana Hanif (LOVE YOU LIYANA!) said in her #Neue9to5 interview 2 weeks ago, where she talked about clients who would keep asking for a “lower price”.
I myself have experienced this when I was tasked to snap photos at graduation ceremonies.
This makes me feel sad because this is what I want to do in life.
I’d like to again refer to what Liyana said – “many people consider art as just a hobby or leisure activity”.
I fully agree with what Liyana said. Just take a look at filmmaker in Hollywood who are generating millions of dollars!
I always tell myself that one day that the creative industry will get the recognition they deserve here in Brunei. People must know that we put A LOT OF EFFORT into our craft and talent.
What makes me optimistic is the rise of young independent creators in Brunei, ranging from artists to filmmakers. This encourages me even more to create my own original content on YouTube rather than use recycled ideas previously done by popular channels. People need to appreciate the creative industry as much as the other industries in Brunei.
6. What two moments in life are you extremely grateful for?
I was always keen on showing my passion towards dance in my school. However, it was hard for me to express it as I lacked the self-confidence. My school has its own dance group that performs live in front of the whole school during assemblies. So, I joined it but never really fitted in. Everyone had their own friendship groups and there was plenty of conflict. I left and decided to go solo.
During school celebrations, I performed on stage by myself and slowly gained performance experience which boosted my confidence as well as courage. A lot of people knew that I was THAT kid who dances.
Prom rolled around; it was April 26, 2019. I still remembered checking the time on my watch. It was 9pm when I stepped onto the stage. As the song ‘Fake Love’ by K-Pop band ‘BTS’ started playing, everyone began screaming and chanting the song. I gave it my best as it was my final year of school.
I can still recall everyone cheering me on and screaming, “Encore! Encore!”
The crowd wanted a second song.
As I glanced at the host, he immediately gave me the thumbs-up.
I rushed to the technicians who were in charge of the music.
Then as the second song began to play – (yes! It’s another BTS song … ‘Mic Drop’).
I danced my heart out. And I’ll be honest here: I felt extremely emotional as random thoughts began rushing to my head. Life’s funny. I began thinking back of when I was a shy boy who couldn’t even express his dancing skills … and now there I was, being cheered on by everyone, including my teachers and principal. It was indeed one of the best nights of my life.
The day was January 30, 2019. This was the day I created a vlog titled “The daily life of a JIS Brunei student”. (You can check out the video below!)
Long story short, this vlog was me documenting my life as a student at JIS, and showcasing my school and how my day went. I never thought much about it, until it ended up on everyone’s recommended page on YouTube. My video pretty much went viral. It went all the way to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
I never expected it to explode. It went to the point where my teachers approached me and told me that they enjoyed watching it. But one of the most memorable moments was when my school principal, approached me with his old school friend. He introduced me to him, on what my job was, etc. What was really amusing was that he brought up my vlog, and even remembered the view count which shocked me. I tried to stay composed and kept speaking to them professionally.
At the time of writing, that YouTube video had hit over 108,000 views! I am proud of myself!
7. What do you think is a common misconception people have about teenagers or people within you age group?
One common misconception that I hear a lot is: ‘Arguing with parents is considered disrespectful even though you make the right points.’ I personally think this is true as I’ve been in this scenario before.
I do think that any parent has every right of knowing what’s best for their child. However, it is important to understand how teenagers feel about any given situation and sit down with their parents, having a mature conversation rather than having the parent being purely dominant and not hearing from their child’s side. This can turn into an unhealthy relationship between child and parent therefore it’s essential for both parties to have that conversation.
8. What 2 stories on Neue’s website did you enjoy reading and why would you recommend others to read those particular stories?
Liyana’s story is very relatable to me. We met through Instagram, and we chatted about her passion project – “They’re Just Bruneians” – which talks about how creative Bruneian products are undervalued and how Liyana brings that issue to light.
What makes the story so unique is how she addresses it using a phrase, ‘They’re Just Bruneians’, poking a little fun to customers that under appreciate the value of our products, just because it’s made by a Bruneian.
Currently, she has featured on radio talks shows etc, and she has collaborated with @moosethetics into creating a limited-edition pin that screams that famous phrase. I bought it and currently pinned it onto my favourite cap. Now I walk anywhere proudly wearing that pin on the top of my head ?
I enjoyed this story as I had just graduated from school and have 8 months of free time. I thought about what I could do in the meantime so I decided to find ways of saving money. However, it is very difficult.
That said, I recommend those who are struggling to save money to read this article, as it gives you simple but effective tips that would help anyone who are keen in being serious with their financial management.
9. What would you like to say to all our Neue readers?
When I started dancing, I was aware that people made fun of me and thought I was “cringey”. It did hurt my self-esteem. Whenever I stepped onto the stage, I was afraid of being judged, laughed at, etc. But I now realise that they were just a minority of the people around me. Mostly, people were supportive. So don’t let the negative aspect of anything in life take over that positivity.
Whenever things go bad, always know that it will get better no matter what! Stop caring what people think about you as their opinions don’t matter. What matters is your own opinion. When you feel like giving up, remember why you started.
I never expected any of this success to come to me. I never planned to be a vlogger/filmmaker. It just came to me. Life is indeed full of surprises. When you have a dream, you keep it alive no matter what. Stop complaining about everything. Stop wishing. Stop asking for things. Just do it, and everything will fall into place.
My message to Bruneians is this: support your peers and radiate that positivity!
Don’t let your anger and negativity take over.
If you want to gain respect from people, simply show the respect that people deserve.
Be mindful of your choice of words.
Be honest with your friends, families, peers, etc.
Do share this message to everyone you know because I believe everyone has a good heart. It’s just that some may be shrouded in anger, darkness and jealousy.
Also this may be random but make sure to eat a lot and sleep, because it does reduce stress ?
The Last 5 Questions:
1. What’s your most embarrassing #EpicFail moment in your life that you would not mind sharing with the public?
Thirty seconds after buying snacks at the concession stand at a cineplex, I accidentally bumped into my uncle and we dropped all of our food on the floor.
(FYI, all our food = 2 sets of beef nachos, a hotdog, 2 large cups of Milo and 2 bags of potato chips!)
Being the good citizens that we are, we both shamelessly cleaned it up before the cleaners arrived.
We queued up again, only this time we bought the drinks and nothing else. We had the potato chips though so we’re good.
2. Describe what a perfect day would be from the moment you wake until bed.
I wake up to seeing a beautiful sunrise with my cat sleeping right next to me. I get out of bed and get a good morning call from my favourite girl group, ‘Twice’.
I would love to go for a morning walk, whilst enjoying the sunrise.
Once I get home, I cook my own breakfast. It most likely would be a salad, American breakfast or just simply IndoMee.
I would sit down and reply to comments on my videos and messages on social media. Then I would love to drive down to a place of nature, whether it’d be a hill or a forest.
I would sit down and fly a drone around the area, capturing the beauty around me.
After that, I would get home, where my creative space lives.
I would invite people over to come up with creative ideas for videos, projects, etc, that would raise awareness for any current issues.
Once that’s done, I would want to go onto a filming set and star in an advert for any large company in Brunei.
I would vlog about it and probably host an IG live, so my followers can see what’s going on in my life.
I would love to go around beautiful places in Brunei such as Empire, the beaches, etc, and have a personal photographer/videographer produce content of me experiencing and showcasing the location.
This would be perfect for my IG feed. Also, if I meet any of my subscribers, I would love to take photos and talk to them!
Another thing I would want to do is surprise my subscribers. I would buy large amounts of food from McDonald’s and pick a location for a meet and greet. When a subscriber arrives, I give them food for free to show my gratitude and appreciation for them. That would be awesome.
As evening approaches, I would perform live for thousands of people at Jerudong Park. And that will be the highlight of the day.
I sit down on the stage and take questions from the audience, and talk to everyone whilst providing them with free food and drinks.
I want to have some sense of a community within my subscribers, so I would ask everyone to talk to each other and make friends!
Once all of that is over, I would get onto a helicopter and fly around Brunei and experience the beauty until the sun sets.
I get home and prepare for bed. I would listen to songs by Lauv till I fall asleep. And a new day begins.
3. If your pet cat could talk for a minute just for this Neue interview … what would the most BIZARRE thing it would tell all our readers? Also what would you ASK your cat? (Keep in mind you only have one magical minute with this ‘talking’ cat!)
My Cat (Oreo): “In life, you either end up being with an owner or alone. I am lucky enough to be adopted when I was 6 months old. I was scared but my owner gave me a home. He keeps touching my belly and I hate it. I always go up to his door and meow loudly just so he can wake up to turn on the water tap. Lick, Lick, Lick. Yum, that water was tasty. I shall now sit in my favourite position. Legs flat on both sides, like a tiger carpet, back straight and face forward. I am now going to take my cat nap and ignore my owner for the rest of the day. Also, this is for my owner, please stop fanboying over Korean girls who do not even know that you exist. You should instead clean my cat litter and vomit that I left on the carpet this morning. Also, feed me. I am hungry!”
And here’s my response to Oreo: “Oreo, everyday you come to my room, sit down and stare at me while I do work. At least, once in your life exercise and stand on both feet. It’s good for those majestic legs of yours. Also, when are you going to get married and have children? I hooked you up with a female cat already. The only thing you do is hug her from the back. You are a lonely cat Oreo. You need a girl and kids. It’s time for you to get married!”
4. If you were to trade places with someone else for one month, living or dead, famous or not, fictional or real … who would it be?
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I cannot describe to you the gut wrenching feeling of scooting out on this line over a 400ft drop to the ground below and another 500 ft to the bottom of the canyon. Never in my life had I experienced this level of fear and discomfort, not even jumping off the 104ft bridge in positano or skydiving. This was my third attempt at walking the line, after 2 attempts where I was only able to stand up for about half a second I scooted out once more. Sitting on the line looking at the anchor point on the other side about 60ft away, I felt like throwing up. 110% of my body and mind were telling me to just scoot back to land and give up, but like I do with many other challenges in life I told my mind to shut up. I had walked a line like this dozens of times the day before, it's the exact same thing just a little bit higher. Somehow I pushed against everything my mind and body was telling me and managed to stand up and walk 9 steps. To me one of the greatest achievements of my life, not so much the walking part but the fact that I pushed past the greatest level of fear I had ever experienced. Huge shout out to @chelseakauai for getting me Into this and motivating me with her passion and dedication to walk the line. And of course @wildsolretreats @scottyrog and @kylor for helping document and support us on this mission ??
Sam Kolder. (Check out this IG profile above!)
His life is the definition of p-e-r-f-e-c-t in my opinion.
He travels around the world with his girlfriend, and enjoys life to the fullest. He mostly travels to places of nature, with beautiful sceneries such as Bali, Africa, South America and Europe. He lives in these beautiful huts with amazing view. He flies a drone, capturing the beautiful scenery around him. He is a master photographer and video editor, and spends time building his story through his adventures captured on video and photo.
I aspire to be like him one day, as I believe Brunei needs someone like him.
Brunei is full of beautiful sceneries and challenges for me to solve. I want to raise awareness from poverty to rubbish filled oceans. Sam tackles problems like these by raising awareness and educating his audience on how to tackle them. I want to do something for this country and I think helping it by making videos about these issues can spark the change needed.
5. What weird food combinations do you really enjoy?
I don’t really enjoy any of these immensely. These are the result of boredom and hunger. Try at your own risk!
(i) Milo Sprite
I’m really bad at making milo but one thing you have to keep in mind is the consistency and how much powder you put into the drink. Once the milo is ready, pour the Sprite inside and enjoy! You get a chocolatey fizzy taste
(ii) Ice cream fries
Probably the best one. You take a bucket of ice cream, and have French fries by your side, ready to be dipped into the ice cream.
(iii) Sausages and chocolate
I would either boil or fry my sausages first. Cut them up into small chunks if you’d like it that way. I melt my chocolate into a mixture. Then when everything is ready, I dip the sausage inside the melted chocolate and eat.
I would like to sincerely apologise for these horrible combinations and I hope I don’t land anyone in hospital!
Okay that’s everything. I love you all!
See You In The Next #Neue9to5
Would you like to be featured next? Or would you like to nominate someone you admire to be interviewed?