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July 7 2020
July 7 2020
Keynote Address by Loop Co-founder, Heather Kaye, at Dulwich College, Shanghai.
Good morning students, faculty and families joining us from home.
We are so lucky to be together today, to celebrate your achievements over this most unusual year. When I learned that today’s Speech Day theme was Resilience, I was particularly excited because if there could be a Word of the Year – RESILIENCE would surely win for 2020.
Just by being here today, I know that every single one of you is SUPER resilient! In the past few months, you’ve learned how to attend classes online, how to pretend you didn’t just get out of bed and don’t have snacks under the table…You’ve learned how to keep up your friendships, even though you weren’t able to be together in person. And even though your teachers and friends couldn’t give you a hug, you knew they were there for you and you were not alone.
I used to think resilience meant ‘toughness’ – and maybe that’s partly true.
But the heart of resilience is the ability to recover when things get tough. To stand back up when we get knocked down.
But how do we do that? What helps us get back up and become resilient?
Let’s look at this in the form of something we all love: DESSERT!
Let’s imagine that today we are going to bake a GIANT triple-layer RESILIENCE CAKE – where should we start? What do you think the foundation layer should be made of?
Guess what? You have this first layer ALREADY because you are an important part of this community and of your families.
This foundation layer is about being connected to each other.
Our community and famiy are incredible sources of support, strength and resilience – in ways we may not even be able to forsee now.
Keep the bonds between you strong, because this world can be at the same time wonderfully welcoming and very lonely.
By supporting and encouraging each other, you create the first layer of our resilience cake and know that you are not alone.
What’s should the next layer be? What else do we need to become more resilient?
Have you ever heard the expression, “Whether you think you can or you can’t – you are right?”
Well, even though Henry Ford said those words over 100 years ago, they still hold true today. Mindset – whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – plays a big part in how we work through life’s challenges.
Henry Ford didn’t invent the car, but he figured out how to make cars more affordable and accessible by creating the assembly line. Elon Musk didn’t invent the rocket, and he failed many times on the way to the launch pad – but he did not quit!
He decided YES I CAN – and just a few weeks ago, SpaceX successfully launched two men to the International Space Station. So if you want to be an inventor, a designer or a creator, or tackle any big problem, you will need lots of resilience.
You will need support from your community and you will need to have an “YES I CAN” mindset to keep you going when things get tough.
Once you’ve got these two layers, you might even start to look at problems as opportunities.
I moved to Shanghai 15 years ago because I’m really passionate about fashion and I wanted to see what happens to all those designs I was drawing on my computer in New York City and emailing to our factories in Asia.
I knew how to make one pair of pants or a dress, but how are BILLIONS of clothes made? China had the answer.
Fashion is known for its glamour, but when I visited the factories that made our clothes, I saw a lot of things that weren’t very glamorous.
And that’s when I realized that I’m working in the world’s second largest polluting industry – and so I started to wonder, what could I do to change things? I’m just one person!
Then, one day not long after I’d arrived, our company had a big meeting with all the bosses and staff. Our chairman had flown over and gave an important speech. Then the audience got to ask questions.
I’ll never know where I got the courage to raise my hand in front of all those people, but I asked the chairman what we could do to be a more environmentally friendly company.
And he laughed at my question. He actually laughed! He said, “Forget it! Customers will never pay a cent more for eco-friendly products! They just don’t care!”
It was at that moment that my Mindset – just like Elon Musk’s but focusing here on earth J - switched to “YES I CAN” do this!
I can make a difference and take action on ways to make fashion less damaging for our planet. I had the support of my community – the first layer of resilience – and I changed my mindset to YES I CAN, the second layer of resilience.
And so, I started a new kind of fashion company.
Our company now makes clothes from recycled plastic bottles - so they won’t go to landfill or into our oceans – and when you are done wearing them, we can recycle them again so there’s no waste.
Every day at my work we face challenges and things go wrong. On average 30 people are involved in the making of one garment, which makes fashion a very human process, full of bumps in the road.
I’ll give you an example. In January, right before Chinese New Year, we received boxes and boxes of our new collection. We were so excited…we opened the boxes…help up a piece….and well…yes, this was our FISH print, lots of little puffer fishes swimming around but…something was wrong!
They were UPSIDE DOWN! We had a whole collection of what looked like dead fish on our hands!
I can laugh about this now, but as a sustainable company, it gutted us that after so much hard work, we had boxes of garments no one could wear. Fortunately, we have a resilient team who got to work finding a solution. Together with the factory they were able to save most of the fabric and remake the garments correctly.
Now the fish are happily swimming right-side up!
So you can see that in whatever you choose to do, building your resilience is KEY because failure and setbacks are simply part of life.
Taking risks, failing and learning what went wrong or right is necessary to getting closer to a solution or a discovery.
So after being part of a community, and having an “YES I CAN” mindset – what else helps us keep going? What is the third layer of our resilience cake?
Just like deciding YES I CAN helps us move obstacles out of our path, finding our PURPOSE – OUR WHY – gives us the vision and energy to keep moving forward on our path.
Think about what is REALLY important to you. Besides Minecraft.
Finding your WHY – whether it’s helping others, making impactful art, building a business or curing disease – whatever it is that becomes your purpose – this will also become a huge source of resilience for you.
Just when you want to give up, knowing your WHY will keep you motivated.
So now we have our triple-layer resilience cake: community, YES I CAN, ELON CAN, YOU CAN mindset, and finding your WHY.
What about the icing on the cake? Our favorite part! The icing on the cake is learning to be your own best friend.
How many of you have a little voice in your head? Talking you through things? Don’t be shy, raise your hand!
When you’re running around the track in PE, what’s your voice saying to you? Is it saying “You’ve got this!”? Or is it saying “Arrrgggh I want to QUIT!”
When you get a bad score on your math test, does your voice say, “AH, I’m hopeless at math!!” or does it say, “ok, I see what I missed and now I’ll work on it”?
Your voice can make a big difference in how you see the world – and help determine whether you’re a can - or a can’t do - mindset.
So listen closely and train that voice to be your biggest fan, your super-supporter – and coach you like a best friend would.
And just like that, we’ve built a triple-layer resilience cake – with icing!
You are a very important part of the Dulwich family community. You’re an important part of our Shanghai family community. Throughout the summer, stay connected and check in on each other.
Enjoy your well-earned resilience cake and my very best wishes to each of you. Congratulations on a resilient school year and thank you for including me here today.
Loop Co-founder, Heather Kaye, at Dulwich College, Shanghai