Find Your Voice Asia (FYVA) - Q&A with Able Wanamakok

Hello, Ladies!

Communication is a vital part that fills up our everyday lives, be it with yourself or with the outside world. Do you know that being able to speak kindly and positively to yourself is even more important than your conversations with the others? More importantly, it is (being kind to yourself) actually a skill that could be developed.

Wish to know more? This month, we are honoured to meet with the founder of Find Your Voice Asia (FYVA), Able Wanamakok who is balancing various roles and not afraid to speaking out. Read our interview with Able below for an up close and personal view of who she is and how FYVA may help with your well-being and in developing good communication skills.

1. Please give a brief introduction of yourself.

I am Able Wanamakok, the founder of Find Your Voice Asia (FYVA). FYVA is a platform aiming to provide holistic communication coaching services. I am originally from Hong Kong and moved to the USA when I was 10. Currently, I am based in Thailand with my family. I am a TV host, emcee and past news presenter. Recently, I have also started coaching for holistic communications.

2. What makes you started with FYVA?

FYVA was founded 3 years ago. The initial idea came from the multiple invitations I had from the audiences of different management levels to guide them for effective communication. Besides, the past 5 years has be an exponential curve for my personal growth that provided me with clarity and confidence to initiate FYVA. Especially, these 2 years of COVID-related situations made me realize that having effective communication with yourself is actually more important than with the other people. It is especially important to understand your thoughts and know who you are as it will ultimately affect the way you communicate with the others.

3. What’s the importance of speaking out?

I think that it is very important for us to share who we are. I always believe that everyone is born for a reason and we all have something to share and to give. It is important to listen as well; listen more and speak less. Especially at work, it is vital to be a part of a table. For example, when you are invited to a meeting, it is important to share so that the other people can know what you wish to contribute to the group and can also understand your stand. People are unable to know you without you speaking out.

4. What are the main challenges women face to express themselves? Any difference for women from different cultural backgrounds?

I do believe that society’s standards, expectations and the cultures where we were raised affect a lot on how we express ourselves. For this I will be sharing using my own experience. In the USA, the culture do appreciate and expect individual expressions, be it a man or a woman. I was in Japan for a year as an exchange student. I am not sure how things could have changed over the years, but when I was there back in those days, women were expected to occupy very little space and they were expected to do a lot of the stereotypical women chores e.g. cooking dishes and washing clothes and were less expected to speak out. The reason I am sharing this story with you ladies is because I was shocked that how a year of exposure to different culture could have caused this much of changes in me when I was back to the university in USA. One of the examples is that I was reluctant to raise my hand and answer a question in one of the lectures in a huge hall even though I knew the answer. I realized that after a year of stay in Japan, I was really anxious and getting much scared than how I used to be.

I reflected on the above condition and thought it could be related to the conditioning I received during my stay in Japan. The conditioning was that you are a woman and especially a young female you are not expected to speak out. You are expected to listen and perform what is expected of you from man. This is the time when I realized that the expectations from the cultures and environment could have an impact on you. This is important because we all want to be accepted to feel safe. It is the innate fear that can affect who we are and what we can do. Hence, the more important point to know is how courageous you are to go against the expectations and overcome the fear to become your unique self.

5. Could you please share with us a bit more of your professional experience?

I started as a news presenter with more than 8 years of experiences, both taped and live. I have 15 years of experiences in hosting for events, conferences, parties, openings and some TV travel shows. Before that, I was involved in hospitality management working in hotels and restaurants where I grew my inter-personnel skills. This is a field where one has to deal with different kinds of customers and multi-tasking at the same time. The fact is, we have to communicate with people all the time whether you are a presenter or not. Hence, it is vital to develop your communication skills to express who you are as a part the society. You have to share your idea and thoughts so that you feel competent in what you are able to give to people. If you do not communicate, people cannot receive from you. Everything is connected and everything is a circle.

Communication at work is especially important if you want to advance in your career whether you are a man or a woman. Depending on your cultural background, how you were brought up by your parents, and also the society; the key point is how you can grow from your past to extent to where you can go in the future and communication skill is one of the key skills that everyone needs for their personal and career growths.

6. What are some of the tips you will share with the readers for good communication skills, particularly at work?

Let me share a context situation with you that you can understand better. As a presenter, we always have meetings before an event to meet with the producers, artists, talents, and musicians. Following is the steps that I always use whenever I attend to any meetings and think that they may also be useful to you in other situations or meetings that you may encounter in the future:

Listen - first to what people have to say. People always have expectations of what you should do, what you should say, how you should be and what you cannot say.

Evaluate - the whole situation. This is because there will be multiple peoples who have different expectations and views. When you are observing, you are also trying to understand each person’s personality and experience as these could affect how people express themselves. My experiences from hospitality management allows me to understand people quickly based on what they speak to me and I respond accordingly. In short, I try to understand the whole situation for each of their responsibilities and expectations.

Ask questions - once I understood the whole situation. When you ask questions, you are linking what these people know and what they don’t know; to what you know and what you don’t know; asking questions is a way to bridge the connections with all the people. Also via questioning, they will know what I know and what I don’t understand that need further clarification.

Be firm and give suggestions - based on your experience and how they can improve the whole situation. This is the time you speak out. Quality is more than quantity and remember to speak firmly and precisely. The words and things you say will have more power when they come from your experiences because people can feel the confidence through your words and expressions. Confidence comes when you have more experiences.

7. What is ‘authenticity’ to you? How does it work from daily life to the workplace?

Being authentic is no secret. Because I think innately we all know how to be authentic but we allow fear to stop us from being authentic; fear of being judged, fear of stereotyping; fear of people labelling us. I have all of these fears and I had allowed other people to control in the past a lot of what I want to say and what I didn’t want to say. This is because I want to be like and accepted. As an immigrant, I dealt with a lot of discrimination; racism; stereotyping at the age of between the age of 10-13. It affects me a lot because this is actually an important stage where you are developing of who you are as a person. Those years of not being accepted left scars on me and leave an impact on my later stage of life. As I always want to be liked and stay connected, I always try to give as much to people so that people will like me.

However, as I grow older, I came to realize that it is not how much you give; it is the quality you give that matters. You also have to let other people know the importance of how you are willing to give and what you would like to receive. Giving and receiving is an exchange of energy and it has to be equal to be balance. Hence, when I say to be authentic is as you get older, you will have a better understanding of what you are willing to give and what you would like to receive. Everything has to be balance and it comes from within.

To be authentic is to know who you are and to speak from your heart. I know people always connect when I speak from my heart; whether I am showing that I am being brave, vulnerable or whether I am being firm or even crying. Since I know that everyone else has the same feelings with happiness, sadness, success and failures, why do I need to hide? It is fine for me to express myself. It is ok for me to speak out. Maybe this is one of the reasons that I am born that is to be a presenter, and to be in this field that I have grown to be more daring, to be more accepting and to be braver.

I encouraged people to be braver in expressing themselves. There’s nothing wrong that you speak from your heart. However, I also learned that there is a timing for everything that the same goes for sharing and speaking out. You have to balance and aware of the timing for when to say something because you need to have patience for yourself and the others for the message to be delivered effectively at the right time.

8. Who are those that have previously joined FYVA?

Those who have signed-up for FYVA are of diverse backgrounds. There were executives from the senior management levels (e.g. from General Electric and BMW) who were looking for more effective ways to communicate with their subordinates. They (the executives) would like to be trained in a more holistic way so as to quickly connect with somebody (be it their customers or subordinates). This is because for effective communication, you will first need to connect with people. People have to like and trust you before they listen to you. Also, I have clients who are children who would like to improve their communication skills or would like to be a YouTuber. Some of them are influencers themselves who would like to improve their English or public speaking skills, via online or in person.

9. What are you working with at the moment?

I am focusing on and am at the refining stage for the details of the FYVA programs. The 5 FYVA programs are speaker training, presenter training, confidence mentorship, speaking bravely, job/pre-university interview training. I am collaborating with the coaches of whom I have been working with for the past a year and a half. What I realized was that every coach is different and unique that we are actually complementing instead of competing with each other when I am working with them. I am introducing my programs to them and also to the other platform like TSL so as to get the FYVA programs out that that people know that besides an emcee/presenter; I am also a holistic communication coach now. I love them both that they are related to public speaking.

10. How do you foresee FYVA, in 5 years’ time?

If it is only for FYVA, I hope to become a very well-known public speaker. I would like to be invited to large events and conferences to share my experience and knowledge in my spiritual growth. I have a lot to share as a spiritual person (personal growth) and as a communication coach. Similar to a presenter, but instead of talking about other people’s products, a public speaker speaks from his/her own experience. I would like to grow my career as a holistic communication coach and have regular clients to help people with their self-communication needs and communications to the outside world. The main point is that I would like to use my skills and knowledge to enhance and help somebody else.

Of course I would like to have exponential growth in the next 5 years. I hope to become more famous and well-known in my field. I am not seeking fame for ego, but I am seeking fame to grow influence. When I grow my influence, I grow my reach to help more people. When you are not rich mentally, you cannot give to anybody. I don’t want to be poor mentally and I don’t want to be poor financially. I want to be rich in all aspects of my life. I want to live with abundance. I know that it will take time and I am patient with myself. To whoever that is reading this blogpost, please feel free to reach out to me via TSL. Please let me know how I can be your help to your well-being and communication skills.

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