As I sit here in my late 40s, I look back at a series of rather serendipitous twists that have brought me to where I am today, running the World's first Career-Strategy Consultancy, .
As a kid, I had always been very fascinated by other people's careers. My dad was a humble Administrative Clerk in Standard Chartered Bank, a place where he worked for close to 3 decades before retiring at 55. Mom was a 'Housewife' (Yes...that's what they were called back in the 70s.) My older brother and I didn't have much, but we were living comfortably.
I've tried my best to find out what parents were doing and was always amazed by how much they were than my simple family. A classmate's dad was a Singapore Airline Pilot and he never failed to show off his annual vacation photos to Disneyland and Europe (even though the tickets were free!)
I started exploring careers and by 13, I decided that I was going to be a Medical Doctor as I easily aced Biology and had this amazing knack for remembering Latinised terms.
However, as fate would have it, my brother who was 5 years older than me, got into Medical School and one day, he sneaked me into the Anatomy Lab where First-year Medical Students conscientiously dissected their freshly procured .
With youthful enthusiasm, I stepped into the dimly-lit room and caught sight of rows of frightfully tanned, leathery and shriveled bodies laid bare on cold steel gurneys. I was then greeted by the nauseating stench of Formaldehyde (preserving fluid) and old, wet socks.
I turned around and ran out of the room, expelling my breakfast all over the corridor. I remember by brother laughing out loud behind me saying,
He was correct, so I had to redefine my career aspirations.
And also by Gordon Gekko's speech about how
I then decided to go into Business.
So I immersed myself into books like , , and even Trump's . (Wouldn't recommend the last one, though.)
But when I turned 19 and was serving my National Service in the Army (and with lots of free time on my hand), I decided to gain some hands-on experience in starting up a business. At that time, my brother's med-school classmates lamented the lack of that they needed to study Anatomy with and plastic replicas just weren't detailed enough.
These bones were clean, odourless and most importantly, legally/ethically sourced from authenticated Medical Institutions across Europe. Initially, I had issues identifying storage facilities to keep them, and ultimately, had to store them in my room and at any one time, I literally had about
1. You need to roll with the punches. Don't cast your Career Dreams in Concrete. You need to be flexible and agile to adapt to changing situations.
2. Understand what 'fires you up'. What makes you excited? What brings you Joy? Follow that angle and love what you do!
3. Keep learning. I didn't have any Mentors until I was 30 and starting up without one was difficult. Find a Mentor and keep him/her close.
Tune in to Part 2, where I share about how I encountered my 'Mid-Career Crisis' at 30 and decided to make a into a Career-move that was high-risk but high-reward...if it worked out.