Last week I received a bonus from my company. Things are going well, and it was a good financial incentive. It was rewarding for the hard work last year. It is pretty standard practice in Singapore to offer 13 months of salary, and the variable pay I received matches the industry. My salary is about average within the ex-pat group, and it’s quite a decent living standard for me as a single person. Despite the financial aspect, I have been thinking about my career development and the job I love. Also, to justify my salary, I am thinking about making a more significant impact rather than simply working harder.
Meanwhile, there are some challenges in my current role. Yesterday, I met with a new client at an event. He was friendly and pleasant, but I was stuck and unsure what to say to build a strong business connection. As my company is growing, I feel the pressure that there is a higher demand on my soft skills, including presentation skills to new prospects, networking skills in the banking industry and communication skills to connect with diverse groups of people. I need to overcome my fear of talking with strangers and be more charismatic. Leadership skill is what I need to master to thrive in the overseas job market.
If I could pick a career solely to maximise my income and status, I would probably become a full-time salesperson. They have the qualities I want in soft skills: influencing clients, negotiating for profit, and being friendly for new business opportunities. The amount of commission that a good salesperson could earn is attractive. However, I did not pick this career because I am an introvert. I got the fear to approach strangers and keep highly energetic, engaging a group of people. Also, bad salespeople are annoying as they try to sell hard, destroying personal relationships with family and friends for financial benefit.
When I was a child, my favourite activity was reading history books. Mainly I was fascinated by the ability of ordinary people to become the role of consultant for the king. He used his impressive communication skills to earn the king’s trust and even persuade and unite the other countries to fight against the common enemy. He saved the community from war, benefited himself with high social status, led to peace and saved millions of lives for more comprehensive social benefits. I wish I could be as influential as he did, but I could only play computer games and apply strategies in the virtual war. Throughout my childhood, I was also good at writing essays to express my ideas, leading teams as the president of student unions and also enjoyed flirting with girls in a social environment.
After reflecting on my past favourite activities, the underlying enjoyment beneath was using strategy to achieve goals. I enjoyed reading history books to learn from others’ experiences and avoid repeating the same mistakes. I could understand big cycles better, adapt to changes and understand human nature. It’s meaningful to contribute and lead teams to achieve common goals. I also enjoyed the communication, and its fun interacting with people most of the time.
As an adult now, I still possess these characteristics. I am still actively learning with curiosity, reading books and taking online courses to absorb new knowledge. I like to blog and write about ideas for self-reflection and continuous improvement. I want to be a trusted advisor and help others succeed, empathetic to see others suffer and try to achieve something bigger than myself. I am happy to make others happy.
Sometimes I would envy Elon musk with his achievements in PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX to make so much money. He is so influential that his Twitter message in 280 characters got so much attention that it could distort the market. However, the positive bit that I don’t want is losing privacy. It’s unnecessary to get the spotlight about who to date and the crazy name for the newborn baby. The positive bit I wanted was his ability to combine technology and business to achieve tremendous success and make a high impact. Besides, I envy Leonardo DiCaprio. He achieved great success as an actor and attracted all the most beautiful ladies and top models. I don’t want to be a movie actor as a career, but I am jealous of his traits of charisma. He is so handsome and looks so confident that no lady could resist him. Even Jeff Bezo’s girlfriend would be attracted to him naturally. I would love to get substantial financial success like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, yet I am not sure if I would want to go through the same crazy journey in their career. I only want the financial competence bits of their life.
The pleasure of work comes from making money, learning new technology, leading teams and helping other people. Trying to solve complex real-world problems with collaboration would lead to many innovations in digital, scalable and valuable solutions in the private sector. I could be a strategist at the intersection of technical project product and human psychology.
If I would not fail, what I would do next is to start my own business, build a team and product that is scalable and dominate the world market. I would implement the strategy in my mind and experiment with ideas. The company would be sustainable and go IPO. My dream would come true, and I will be the CEO and make quite a lot of money. It might be what I want to do as an entrepreneur and start my own company to build the product. However, my greatest fear is not making any money from the new venture. I may take too much risk, become broke and be a failure.
The jobs that my family could understand are traditional, such as engineer, accountant, and chef. However, they didn’t understand there are jobs in the new digital world, such as Scrum Master and Data Scientist. My family would like me to get technical skills for a stable position with financial stability. That’s why they want me to be well educated and choose a professional career. They would be very anxious about political jobs, especially the protester and NGOs that are against the Chinese Community Party, which would impact career prospects. My family didn’t succeed at moving up the social hierarchy from middle class to upper class. They were missing out on the golden opportunity in Hong Kong when everything was going well. I would be doing better than my family if I could achieve financial freedom, be more international and explore the world. I would have migrated to another country instead of staying in Hong Kong. I want to exceed my parents psychologically by being more international. I could meet more foreign people with a broader view of different cultures through my work. My previous generation had a narrower perspective, and their imagination was limited by poverty. I would help my parents by sponsoring them to travel worldwide to widen their worldview instead of focusing on the greater bay area in China. I could teach them how to use technology and access the internet, with all the world learning materials available on YouTube. I would persuade them to have a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset to see the world with a broader lens.
Around me, my girlfriend may not necessarily be so supportive of my passions and interests. She has different kinds of hobbies and personalities. There is a conflict of interest in terms of my limited time and resources. If I spent more time pursuing my passion, I would have less time to spend with her. She would prefer to occupy my time and ask me to spend time with her. In contrast, my classmates in university and previous business partners are supportive. It is because they have similar backgrounds and are more risk-taking.
I should start practising the voice of Intrinsic Love. If I hear that someone hates me, I should worry less about what others think. Haters are going to hate. And I can’t please everyone anyway.
Everyone wants to work at Google because we think we would enjoy the incredible culture, new technology, and well-paid. Also, there would be pleasure involved with free food, a beautiful office and social prestige. However, this pleasure could also be found elsewhere in tech startups or even starting your own business.
I feel like an idiot because I got the fear of starting my own business, fear of talking to strangers, and fear of public speaking. Given how much pain and sorrow it has caused me and how hard it has been to try to realise it, one ambition I might quietly learn to surrender is to be the wealthiest person in the world.
But I don’t need to be the wealthiest person in the world. I could still earn a decent income by working on a side hustle, exploring new opportunities and meeting new people. If you also want to find work we love, let me know. We would be able to find work that we can not only tolerate for the money but profoundly appreciate - work with a high degree of purpose, camaraderie and creativity. To stand any chance of honouring our desire for meaningful employment, we will need to remarkably concentrate brainpower, time and imagination on its underlying complexities.