An apology from someone a little foolish, a little selfish, and a little inconsiderat

As I drag my exhausted body after the dinner with Team 968 RAWC, Sanddrag, Billfred, and Alvin Cheng from team 581 to give Billfred a ride back to the Laitinen’s, I asked Billfred, “What did you think of Cal Games? How did I do?”

After establishing the fact that it was an incredible event, that I did do a great job organizing it, Billfred said to me, “It was a little long, and the incoherent speech…” I looked at him in the eye, and I said, “Yeah.” We continue down the highway silently for five minutes before we started chatting about something else.

It’s only natural to have doubts when you are doing something this big, something this important. In my case, those self-doubts hit me extra hard when I finally dropped Billfred off, and realized I couldn’t take another step anymore without having trouble breathing.

I woke up at 3am that night when I couldn’t get over the fact that my speech was less than successful. I couldn’t stop thinking how tired everyone looked and how stupid I was for insisting on giving it, when I knew we had to start clean up and get everyone out of there.

Looking back, I know the WRRF community will embrace and forgive me for a little thing like this because we’ve been through so much together, but I was my own worst critic, and it wasn’t acceptable that I was a little foolish, a little selfish, a little inconsiderate, a little stubborn, a little idealistic, and a little naïve.

I wasn’t about to forgive myself when I clearly knew what the right thing to do was, and I didn’t do it.

So, here is my apology to those who were at Cal Games until the very end and refused to leave until everything is cleaned up and taken cared of. Thank you for putting up with me for the past 6 months.

However, I still believe in the speech I spent 6 months working on, and I still believe we don’t spend enough time sitting down and taking a moment to think about the bigger picture, about why we are doing what we are doing. So, I am sending this speech to everyone and every team I know through e-mail and, and ask you pass it on to your students because they are the audience of this speech. I hope you and your student will spend about 15 minutes reading it, and take a moment to think why you are in this wonderful program call FIRST.

They say some words are better left unsaid, so here are 1,536 of them from me, Ken Leung, 06’ Cal Games Manager, just another student struggling to grow up in this world.

To Dream the Impossible Dream, by Ken K. H. Leung](

This is Ken Leung, signing off.

To Dream the Impossible Dream by Ken K. H. Leung.pdf (20.3 KB)

To Dream the Impossible Dream by Ken K. H. Leung.pdf (20.3 KB)

Ken, These are wonderful words. Thanks for sharing them with all of us.

Too often we search for answers and make choices based on perceived convenience. We need to be reminded that there are no easy answers.

We forget that the path is more important than reaching the destination. We forget that the six weeks is more important than the competitions.

Thank you Ken

It was unfortunate that time constraints didn’t allow this speech the attention it deserved. I know we’d all rather be watching robots bashing their bumpers out and poof balls flying through the arena airspace, but speeches like this are the real key to what FIRST is all about. We don’t know where the future of the world is going. YOU have to shape it, mold it, create it, with your two hands and your brilliant minds.

Listen to the speeches given at competitions. The robots are just the vehicles to your future, which run on the fuel of wonderful speeches like Ken’s.


As it’s written, that is a great speech. I’m sure it was even better in person.

Things like this need to be said… no apologies are needed. I feel that the people who run these events have the right to stand up on their soapbox and say a few words to the crowd, even though the crowd is tired and want to go home. Positively, your message got through to many in attendance.

This sort of thing is good for FIRST. I can see a person saying in a couple of years… “hey, that is what Ken was saying back at the 2006 Cal Games”.

Great job with Cal Games this year.

Andy B.

i agree, your speech was, to me, very meaningful. i enjoyed it, and there is no doubt that i would listen to it again. it was aweful how the speech didnt get all the attention that it deserved, was it was a very important speech for me to hear. it really got me wondering about the things that i wanted to do, so for that i thank you ken.

Ken, I really hope I didn’t say “incoherent” (and if I did, it was me being incoherent)–you did great. The audience might not have had a good time hearing you, between the gym’s acoustics, the noises of field disassembly all around, and perhaps a hint of ADD setting in after a long day of hard fun. In many ways, it was like 1351 in the last match of the finals*. Don’t let it discourage you–if I can make it back out to next year’s Cal Games (which I sincerely hope to do), I’ll have my ears ready for that twenty-minute version.

*In the last match of the finals, neither of 1351’s alliance partners moved. 192 had RC issues that couldn’t be sorted out easily, and 840 just plain never moved for reasons beyond me. So now we have 1351 running solo against 254, 968, and a solid defensive robot in 1516. Even with the deck stacked against them to that immense degree, they still managed to put up 18 points. I tip my hat to them.

Sometimes Ken, when you feel so passionate about something, it needs to be said. You can say those things, and people can choose to listen or choose to sit there and mill around or whisper away until you are done. Either way, if you believe in what you said, and felt that you needed to say it to everyone, by all means, good for you. I assure you, people will forget about the time it took. I am a firm believer in freedom of expression, and I’m proud of you for excercising that right.

Oh…and dont feel bad. The crowd at River Rage had to listen to my sorry voice, thoughts, opinions, horrible sense of humor, and even more horrible singing voice for 8 hours. Thats the beauty of having the microphone in hand my friend. :wink:

Ken, last I heard, we did not replace you with a robot. Nothing is ever perfect, go ahead look around. You can’t find perfection, something is wrong with everything. Don’t be nit-picky, accept it, your not a robot (and they aren’t perfect either)

I just read you speech and man that was amazing. Wow is about the only word that I can think of to describe it.

I wish I was there to hear this in person it must have been amazing. I could only imagine the amount of emotion that was put into this.

I applaud all of your efforts and hope that you do not think that your words were wasted. Your words are true to FIRST and I hope they reach out to many more people than you could have ever dreamed.

Wonderful words Ken, and great job with Cal Games. I’m sorry to have missed it. I promise next year, barring another robotics event getting in the way (or god forbid, a midterm), I will be at Cal Games.

You’re apologizing for that? It’s wonderful, and like Andy B noted, I bet it was even better in person. I think I would have done the same*


*Assuming I could write like that…

I want to show my appreciation to those of you who sent me wonderful encouragements after my last message. They mean the world to me. I want all of you to know that once I’ve gotten a good night sleep, I had some time to reflect on how awesome Cal Games was on Saturday. I had a great time, and I know everyone had a great time too. And that’s what we are going to remember years from now, the happy moments.

But let’s move forward so we can think back on more happy moments in the coming season!

And don’t let me get in the way of the truely important things that need to be said. We need to recognize those who put just as much time and energy into Cal Games as I did. If you missed them, please take a moment and look at the individuals and teams who made Cal Games possible.

[WRRF]: Congratulation to all 24 Cal Games Teams for an incredible event!](

[WRRF]: Thank You to our 2006 Cal Games Volunteers](

Finally, lots of you have asked to see the long version of my speech. I really appreciate that. Don’t worry, it will be posted and e-mailed by this Friday.

-Ken L

I think its always natural to second guess decisions or speeches or anything like that. But echoing what people have said… its speeches like this that make people think.

To give you a clue… I can remember way back in the day… when I was in High School… I always listened to the speeches… I heard what Dean was saying and it took heart. It was for that exact reason that I started 229. If I hadnt really heard his dream, FIRST would have been nothing more than a competition, nothing more than a science fair, nothing more than a plain old high school sporting event to me. Yeah I still would have had fun, but I wouldnt have had that spark that lead me on to go on and try and make a difference. I may not have realized all that my mentors were giving me, all that I needed to give back.

The key is to realize that not every single person is going to feel this way. While everyone here seems to echo the same feeling, for each of them, I bet there were 10 more at the competition that didnt listen. But thats ok. Going into 229, my goal was to affect just one student the way I was affected, for me, if I did that, it was a success.

So measure not by the masses, but by the sparks that you generate.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Ken’s post. What I have been thinking is that it is good for the members of the FIRST community to see how the awesome success of a competition can affect the leaders who work so hard to make it as wonderful an event as it can be. These leaders come away having given everything they’ve got to this success, compromising their health, their good nature, their family time, their study time, their sleep time. Many of us rarely get a glimpse into that place when the day is done, the event is a wrap, and our leaders are drained but already assessing the event. Ken gave us that glimpse with this thread. It’s something to remember and I think, to cherish. The stoutness of heart, the commitment to FIRST, and the power of words.

We are, of course, not perfect. As we grow up in this world, we are trying to learn to do the right thing by experiencing and learning from the world around us. Depending on how we choose to look at the world, how deep we can see, and how easy it is for us to recognize our errors, we might or might not be able to do it. And sometimes people just see what the “right” things are differently.

But very often we pretend we are right all the time, or that it doesn’t bother us when we aren’t. I hope that never happens to me, especially with something important like Cal Games. It reminds me that I am still human, that I do make mistakes, that I should keep learning and experiencing.

It is overwhelming when we are running a team, building a robot, organizing an off-season. There will be times when we simply don’t know what to do, and have to make a choice and do the best we can. But even knowing that doesn’t mean we can shield ourselves from the guilt and hurt we experience when we err.

So, we have to accept it, and recognize that there are times when we do need help and support when we feel a little down. This was my way of asking for support, and I am grateful for all that I received.

I believe that a measure of a person is not how they succeed, but how they climb back up when they fall.

I just hope that we won’t ever get so afraid of falling that we stop risking it to reach the things we want in life.

If we don’t speak because some might not want to hear, if we don’t act because some might object; if we don’t experience fearing disappointment, if we don’t reach, if we don’t think, if we don’t feel…


Hey Ken, I am going to go at this at a different angle. When this is down the road a little I think you have to appreciate how good of a friend Billfred is. A friend that can give you that advice is a true friend especially in an organization that true constructive criticism is so fragile. I have had to search hard for good friends and the ones that are brutally honest with me are the ones that I respect most in my organization. I will say honestly that working with the IRI has taught me this the most. Andy, Chris, Libby, Steve Wherry and Kevin Kelly (Libby more than most) have humbled me many times and I have to consider myself lucky for the good advice and not be to hard on myself.

Also very good stuff concerning the speech. Tear’em up Ken

Ah, yes. You are right of course. I meant to say something about that but forgot because I’ve been busy catching up to the rest of things in my life. Let me say this once and for all so no one misunderstand why I put Billfred’s comment in my original post. I only included it because of how important and honest it is to me.

I have never met anyone (in person) younger than I am who is so mature, so passionate about FIRST, and in many ways wiser than I am, than Billfred, who also gave me the honest opinion of and objective outsider that I needed to hear so much. It is this kind of advice I look for the hardest.

Now mind you that I am not out to look for criticism that will put me into a depression everytime ;). It just so happened that this time it was an accumulation of 6 months of stress, doubts, fatigue that hit me so hard after everything is over. What I do want is someone who doesn’t care about my “status” in FIRST, who is willing to say what I need to hear, even though at times I could be a little too sensitive about it and take them too personally. It is this side of “fame” that I dread the most, people see that fame before seeing who I really am.

I want all of you to know that it wasn’t easy to get it out of Billfred. It took a long day from 7:00am to 11:00pm, lots of matches, lots of work, lots of excitement, lots of stress to do it, and I had to ask many times. And it was only after he said what he said that I was able to face my doubts and fears straight on and make the fall and climb back up from it. It was part of a healing process that needed to take place after a long 6 months.

I consider Billfred a partner in this crazy adventure call Life, something I can only say to few close friends through out the years.

Billfred, you were famous before, you are even more famous now :stuck_out_tongue: :D. I hope you didn’t take this the wrong way, and I would be honored if you will come back out to be our game announcer again at Cal Games! Folks in the east coast, Billfred now comes with my official seal of approval ;), so you better take care of him, or else!