Khairul Aming is not a new name in the influencers industry. He is well-known for his laid-back speech while teaching viewers how to cook variety of meals. He manages to make every recipe sound easy and achievable with minimum effort and alternate cooking ingredients. He is also popular for his daily content for the Ramadhan month. During that particular month, he posted 30 different recipes each day and sometimes he even includes beverages and dessert. Long story short, people in Malaysia love him!
On 27 August 2023, he won the Creator of The Year Award at TikTok Awards Malaysia. For a short while, his name was trending on Twitter/X. I did not watch the award, but I did click on that trending topic and saw his speech. He started off the speech by thanking his parents and his team. Nothing was out of the ordinary. He said things that were normally uttered by an award winner. But his next sentence shocked me. He said, “To the youngsters who are interested in venturing into this field, if you are still studying, finish your study first (only) then (you) can become a quality content creator“. It is important to note that Khairul Aming is a graduate of Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee USA.
He added, “A content creator requires more than just virality (you also) need to be polite and (possess) problem-solving skills”.
From his speech, I understood three significant messages that had never been touched or mentioned by any other influencers (that I have known so far):
- The Importance of Education
- Soft Skills and Social Media Presence
- Mastering Problem Solving Skills
The Importance of Education
From news outlet reports, an estimated number of 115, 939 or 35.16 per cent of SPM leavers of 2020 were reported to be disinterested in furthering their education. The number dramatically increased in 2021 where 180,680 (or 48.74 per cent) of students were reported to be inclined to do the same. Why is this happening? According to Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, Deputy of Finance Malaysia, on May 2023, this phenomenon is happening because school leavers are in favor of gig economy, e-hailing services and factory sector. This causes them to fall into the B40 category with income of RM4, 850 and below.
Influencers fall under this gig work category. I understand the attraction that these youngsters have for gig work. It offers a lot of flexibility in terms of working hour, the place and setting, and most of the time it doesn’t require any work uniform. But it is more than just that. I have had my share of gig work when I was young(er). I did a lot of freelance translation, thesis writing, proofreading and etc. Needless to say, it is not for those who do not have discipline and grit.
One quality that is admirable about Khairul Aming is his consistency in producing content. I can’t imagine churning out 30 videos for a whole month. The pre-production, the recording, and the editing would have brought migraines for a mere human being like me. However, that’s what Khairul Aming and his team did. He was (and still is) consistent and disciplined. Those are the two qualities that can be honed extremely well during tertiary education since learning at university provides a lot of flexibility compared to secondary education. One has to have enough amount of self-control to thrive in that flexible environment.
Soft Skills and Social Media Presence
The most memorable tagline by Khairul Aming is, “Hey, what’s up guys?” in the initial part of his video. This tagline alone is influential so much so that other Malaysian influencers adopt it in their videos. And it sort of became his unofficial trademark. But what differentiates him from the rest of the influencers is how authentic he is in his videos. In one of his fried rice videos, he sneezed while sautéing ingredients filled with shrimp paste. Instead of cutting that part out, he included it and went on saying that he has sinusitis. And that’s relatable to most viewers because about 3 million Malaysians suffer from it at any given time.
As an influencer, Khairul Aming also possesses emotional intelligence. This has been shown over and over again in his videos. For example, if he ever uses expensive or slightly expensive ingredients, he would tell his viewers that they can use cheaper options (e.g. replacing longan with lychee). He understands that his viewers could come from various income background.
In his speech, he mentioned politeness as a quality that you need to be an influencer. Now for this, where do we start? His speeches in his videos are normally short, focused and concise. He never went off track and his tone is neutral and stable. He doesn’t shout or curse.
Watching his videos is a calming experience. I have seen many influencers’ videos and I always go back to watching those who have this calming and composed quality because I know what to expect from them. And when you hear someone mention these influencers’ name, you know in your head that this person’s branding on social media is as someone good, polite, and not erratic. How you present yourself in your social media accounts become your branding, even if you’re not an influencer. People will associate your posts and your real life demeanor through what you show online. It’s true that some social media influencers can fake their social media presence but that’s just a case of non-authenticity. In the long run, these non-authentic people will lose followers and opportunities. That is not something that you want if you plan to stay in the field for years to come.
Mastering Problem-Solving Skills
Being an influencer means that you have all eyes on you. When Khairul Aming was criticized for using too much oil in his food preparation by a doctor, he addressed the issue calmly telling how he’s simply showing the method of how the food is normally prepared in a household. He admitted that he could not please everyone but he accepted feedbacks with an open heart and apologized. There’s also another incident where his manager was being rude and arrogant in a social media platform. Again, he apologized to those who were hurt by this and went on dissolving the contract with that manager. These are the two examples of where things went wrong for this food content creator. I believe there are many more issues that were not reported in the media and there are the problems that he had to resolve either on his own or with his team.
And who could forget the issue where his “Sambal Nyet’ went sold out within minutes after it was back in stock. Customers were dissatisfied while some got angry because they could not get their hands on the condiment. What did he do? He set up a factory! And now, everyone is happy.
He admitted that he had made a lot of mistakes in setting up the factory. For example, he bought the wrong machine, materials, and the layout design. These were all the problems that he encountered. However, after spending about RM1 million, his factory is up and running for production. Indeed, problem-solving skills are essential.
This entry is a story of perseverance, consistency, discipline and going through hurdles. Whilst it is true that these are just behavior possessed by an influencer, looking from different point of view, education does play roles in shaping those qualities. If they aren’t important, I don’t think Khairul Aming would mention it in his speech.
Being an influencer is more than just a pretty face in front of a camera. It requires a lot of behind-the-scene work and research. It looks easy but the work isn’t minimal.
I am a firm believer of education and why we should be educated. I have seen many examples of how education help to shape one’s behavior and mind in the long run. I will end this article with a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. He said, “the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character- that is the goal of true education”.