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Robotics startup founder Daryl Lim, on the importance of self-awareness

Written by Nicole Teo Published on 

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Daryl Lim, founder of Augmentus, speaks out on dealing with failures and the importance of self-awareness.

Augmentus is an AI-robot programming platform used by the world’s leading robotics and advanced manufacturing companies. They offer a no-code and fully-integrated programming software that enables anyone, even those with no robotic experience, to program dynamic industrial robots.

Programming is known to many, especially the older generation, to be intimidating and complicated. Daryl Lim agrees with the sentiment, and that’s how Augmentus was created. They offer a code-free platform to help those without any programming backgrounds develop automatic robotic systems.

However, what lies beyond the technology involved? In our conversation, Daryl gave insight into how he got started with his first business, the multiple hackathons he participated in, and his mindset towards experiencing failures.

Augmentus’ code-free programming software. Photo courtesy of Augmentus.

Interestingly, Daryl began his entrepreneurial journey during his late Secondary school years, running a smartphone repair business. During the time, repairs were extremely pricy, and being a student on a budget, he sought an alternative. As the company evolved into being more distribution based, they started to sell computing storage and encryption solutions. And after some time, in his desire to explore other personal ventures, he passed on the business to his family.

Augmentus wins ‘Gold’ at SG:D Techblazer Awards 2021. Photo courtesy of Augmentus.

Now, you would think that for someone who recently won a Gold at IMDA’s Techblazer Awards, that success would probably be part of his DNA. However, that isn’t always the case. Having participated, and lost in a number of hackathons prior, Daryl is living proof that winning doesn’t define your capabilities. So, what then is his mindset towards failures?

“Just because you don’t win doesn’t mean that your idea sucks,” he says quite matter-of-factly. He stresses 2 different aspects when dealing with failure.

Firstly, he reinforces the idea of thinking deeply into the various reasons that could have resulted in a particular failure. “You have to understand why you didn’t succeed.” In his context of hackathons, after organising a few himself, he realised the trade-offs in these competitions. “Some of these hackathons can be very generic scope-wise, so be it AI, travel or consumer tech, you’re able to participate. And because of that, the criteria can be very subjective, based on the judges’ own domain expertise.”

So, to put it simply, sometimes things just don’t work in your favour.

The co-founders of Augmentus. Photo courtesy of Augmentus.

However, he stresses the importance of constantly seeking out ways in which you can improve even these unforeseen circumstances. Winning isn’t the only takeaway when participating in these competitions. And so, Daryl never fails to solicit feedback from the judges after every hackathon, which has helped him to identify and tackle the specific issues of his product. With this knowledge, he now knows what to work and improve on in the future.

This piece of advice is great for the emotional beings out there (like myself), who tend to spiral down the hole of self deprecation upon the slightest hint of rejection or failure. By looking at things from an objective perspective, it prevents you from jeopardizing your own path to success.

Failure doesn’t have to be negative, it provides you with the opportunity to improve.

This ties in with Daryl’s next piece of advice when dealing with failures. Firstly, rationalise your thoughts. Next, recognise that well, daily mistakes are a part of life,

“Don’t beat yourself too hard over it if you don’t win. It’s normal to lose. Take it as a good opportunity for you to learn and further improve on yourself.”

The team working behind Augmentus. Photo courtesy of Augmentus.

Daryl stresses the importance of cultivating a ‘learner mindset’, emphasising that “Nobody knows everything. If you think you do, you’re probably not challenging yourself enough anyway. There’s always a bigger goal you should be aiming for.”

Being hustler is one thing, but a successful one? That is another challenge in and of itself. When asked about the qualities he deems to be most important, I anticipated the usual list of the standard leadership skills. But, I was met with a rather unexpected response: self awareness.

The concept of self-awareness can be very broad, but Daryl defines it in context of understanding your strengths and weaknesses. How do you go about doing so?

“Action is the biggest step. It is only through going through the process of going through with it, will you then know if you’re good at it. So take up internships, part time jobs, and gain that experience.”

As someone who used to recoil from the idea of trying anything new, I definitely vouch for this piece of advice. Something Daryl mentioned that caught my attention was, “The successful ones are not those that spend all their time trying to fix their weaknesses.” This was strangely comforting, to know that even the most successful people have their flaws as well.

While there is nothing wrong with seeking ways to improve yourself, our society has ingrained in us this fear to show any vulnerability, in terms of admitting to our weaknesses.

Hence, many of us feel this constant pressure to play catchup, spending endless hours working on these flaws, and then getting demoralised when we aren’t producing the same results as the experts in that field. It’s a toxic mindset to have, and can cause one to spiral down a path of major self esteem issues.

It was refreshing to know that even the most successful people have their flaws too. So what should we do instead? Well, the most important thing is to recognise your strengths, and after you’ve done just that, continue to work hard on them.

That is the integral factor in cultivating any form of success.

WRITTEN BY

Nicole Teo

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