Climb every mountain, ford every stream

  • First Malaysian to win online competition earning US$1,000 and a trip to Silicon Valley
  • Despite challenges, Lim has run journalism workshops, participated in a US accelerator


Eibhlin Lim (sitting, front row) surrounded by students

IF THERE is one thing that has stayed with me all through the many years since I first saw The Sound of Music, it’s this song:

Climb ev'ry mountain; Ford ev'ry stream; Follow ev'ry rainbow; 'Till you find your dream.

A dream that will need; All the love you can give; Everyday of your life; For as long as you live.

Eibhlin Lim may just be in her 20s but this young lady simply lives and breathes this song.

To earn success in any way or form, one must dare to be different. Listening to Lim’s story, it is apparent that she is an outlier among many of her age. Recently, the 23-year old was named as one of the winners of Pioneer, an online startup tournament geared to help creative young people around the globe in their projects.

“I found out about the competition through a New York Times article about how they were looking for ‘Lost Einsteins’ around the world which I found really unusual because most startup competitions are often in Silicon Valley. I joined the first round in August 2018 and did not win, but joined again in the second round in October and to my surprise, I won,” Lim says.

She is the only Malaysian thus far to win the competition for her book project entitled, ‘The Phoenix Perspective’, a compilation of inspiring entrepreneur stories. While recognition for her initiative is rewarding, there were challenges Lim had to meet along the way.

Finding her way over hurdles

Lim’s voracious appetite for reading books began when she was ver young. At 15, her parents decided it was time for her to focus on her school examinations and banned her weekly bookshop visits.

Even at that age, Lim worked her enterprising mind to access books again and find a way around the rules of her parents. She wrote to The Star, a Malaysian newspaper, and requested to write book reviews for the paper.

At age 18, upon completing her IGCSE examinations, she set off to start a digital journalism workshop for disadvantaged youths and ran pilots in two orphanages in Selangor. She talks of her motivation, “I had hoped that by doing this they would get jobs in the future.”

From the success of her digital journalism pilots, Lim was given a scholarship to join Watson University, a social entrepreneur accelerator in the US, where she had the opportunity to attend the Thiel Foundation Summit.

During the accelerator, Lim soon realised she was not fully equipped to impart knowledge about digital journalism just yet. “I realised that the traditional journalism newsroom model was dying. But I was very used to writing for traditional newspapers but I did not know much about the new online newspaper. The journalism scene was changing very rapidly.”

Having to deal with a fair share of personal hardships, her formal education journey has been a rocky road, Lim returned to Malaysia and wanted to continue school to expand her skillsets. “But I found no college or school in Malaysia would accept me because I was over the age limit from my gap years and those that were willing to accept me, my parents could not afford.”

Entrepreneur stories as inspiration for all

Despite the hindrances, how Lim utilised her gap years indicates she embraces an unconventional approach to self-growth and learning. However, realising she could not continue her formal education at the time was a low point for her.

Having heard such inspiring stories from entrepreneurs while in the US, Lim was desperate to motivate herself and recount the stories she had heard. “I was just really lonely and down. And one day, I just switched on the computer and began typing up a blogpost reflecting on the people I had met while I was in Watson University and the Thiel Foundation Summit.”

“I wrote about their journeys of overcoming their challenges and getting to where they are today,” she said. Among the people she met were the co-founder of Skype, Tom Chi, the creator of Google Glass; Phil McKinney, the former chief technology officer (CTO) at Hewlett-Packard; and Stacey Ferreira, the youngest female entrepreneur in the US to sell a company.

With her online story postings garnering support and positive responses, Lim went on to found Phoenix Newsletters which then evolved into her book project The Phoenix Perspective published in July last year.

Since it started off as an online newsletter, interested students without an internet connection had no access to the Phoenix Newsletters. “So I decided writing a book was the most economical and effective way to get stories to them.”

It was this book project that earned Lim a spot as a winner of Pioneer which earns her the prize of US$1,000 in grant money, a round-trip ticket to Silicon Valley and access to mentorship from some of the world’s most successful individuals.

While her book is intended to uplift others, Lim’s journey and desire to always do what she believes in is an inspiration in itself. From writing book reviews for a newspaper as a school-going teen, running journalism workshops and writing a book, Lim is surely one to look out for as she forges ahead.

“I guess my vision for the future is writing a second book and interviewing more people from different backgrounds, just sharing their life stories and how they got to where they are. My hope is to encourage more people to just go out there and reach for their dreams,” Lim says.


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