Determination and self-confidence overcome formidable challenges


Rahul Bhattarai
October 14, 2022

Letisha Tan: Innovation drives to deliver an uncompromising service (Photo Supplied)

“My name is Letisha Tan, I am a Neurodiverse – I have Tourette Syndrome and I am also an entrepreneur. When I speak, sometimes, I lack a filter and I blurt things out without thinking, and when I have tics, my body and arms turn side-to-side.”

“My body just cannot control itself sometimes and it can get quite tiring with sore muscles. Sometimes when my tics are obvious, I get people asking me if there is a fly in the room or if I am flirting with them. It does get a bit awkward,” she said.

“But I have used this [TS] as my superpower and gone into business and thrive,” Tan said.

The Tourette Syndrome

The symptoms described by 37-year-old Tan are some of the major symptoms of TS, which affects at least one in 1000 children.

The Tourette Association of New Zealand characterises the illness as vocal and motor tics that range from mild to extreme in severity.

According to the Association, people can have singular tics, however, both vocal and motor tics have to have been present for at least a year for an individual to be diagnosed with TS.

“The New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders endorses the Australian Tourette Syndrome Association statistics of 1:1000 children having TS. Not all of those with TS will be diagnosed with TS due to the mild nature of their symptoms.

Struggles with family

Ms Tan was born in Kuala Lumpur in a family of Malaysian Chinese descent and moved to New Zealand for tertiary studies on a Victoria University Scholarship when she was 19 years old.

During her school years in Malaysia, Ms Tan was labelled naughty or mischievous, and her peers were ridiculed by name-calling because of her disability to remain still.

“I was called names like ants in the pants or twitchy. Even the doctors did not know. When I was young, I was misunderstood especially very often and also by family members,” she said.

This frustration led Ms Tan to become more isolated from her friends and family.

“There was certainly a lack of acceptance within the family. Now, looking back, I think it was just that they (especially my mother) just did not know how to handle it,” she said.

The association said that TS is not currently recognised as a disability by the Ministry of Health, and hence those in need of support, are not helped.

The Tourette Association of New Zealand is a volunteer-run organisation with members from all across the country.

Supporting diverse culture

Despite the challenges posed by TS, Ms Tan has started a successful financial services business, with an aspiration to help people from diverse backgrounds.

A qualified Chartered Accountant (and Member of Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand), she runs OnPoint Financial Advice, a financial service, supporting small to medium-sized businesses to help them grow.

Currently, they have a team of four persons, including financial advisers and support staff based in Auckland with clients all over the country.

Ms Tan was dismissed from her earlier job because she objected to the way a client was treated by the Company. She was 28 years old then and felt that the whole world had turned upside down.
She had to service her mortgage loan and had no family support.

“But there was no turning back and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise,” she said.

Ms Tan is proud that OnPoint Financial Advice is growing, business because of its ability to understand diverse backgrounds, multi-generational family dynamics, and cultures.

“Being a Malaysian Kiwi Chinese, I have a strong understanding of culture and diversity. When it comes to money and business, every community and family has a different way of handling finances and most often it does come down to culture,” she said.

The company’s clients range from transport owner operators, civil contractors, and hospitality cafe owners, professionals, to IT professionals and creatives.

“Business can often be done at the office lunch table and then to the family dining table where buying the family home is discussed. It is a very intimate setting and what gets me going every day is to know that we are making a direct difference in their life,” Ms Tan said.

Rahul Bhattarai is Indian Newslink Reporter based in Auckland.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this story

Related Stories

Indian Newslink

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement