February 2

10 Nov 2023: What I learnt from Vivian Balakrishnan


‘Seeking to spark the most potential within you per word of any online newsletter’

1 thought

It’s one day before Singles Day, one of the biggest shopping extravaganzas here in Asia.

Here’s why you shouldn’t buy anything. And how to do that with ads telling you to buy more.

But before that, a confession.

I’ve said before this year has been a pretty broke year, especially with the SG$20,500 spent on publishing books.

Here’s how I’ve scrapped to earn that $2800 per month to keep me floating (and why quitting without a job is sometimes okay).

But here’s the confession.

I’ve stopped trying to impress people.

I wear the clothes my mum picks out for me, even though it may look like it’s for men twice my age. (So yes, I do look like an old uncle.)

When people ask me out for dinner, I tell them I bring my own food, or I tell them to head to a cheaper place.

I’ve started to ask myself why I need:

  1. That new phone
  2. The new laptop
  3. The noise canceling headphones
  4. That holiday

During a book launch with former Auditor General Lim Boo Seng on 8 November, graced by Singapore’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan, Vivian said something that changed how I saw the world.

Speaking in light of the praise he received as a school debater in the past, he said,

But life is not a school debate.

Let me repeat that. Life is not a school debate.

Because there are times when we treat it like that. We try to win the arguments we have with our loved ones. Or we treat life as a competition where our salaries, assets, and children become the trophies we stack on a dusty shelf.

So here’s a question,

How important is that purchase, really? Who does that serve?

If you’re keeping that bad job just to pay for more things, maybe it’s time to quit. Yes, even without a job.

1 talk

How do you leave people feeling after you speak or interact with them?

1 tip

Vivian continues,

You don’t win based on how intellectual you are. Or how well you argue.

Rather, you win based on the relationships you have.

And how you leave people feeling.

Life is hard. And where you are at, I don’t know. But I know it’s probably just as tough, if not tougher than what I’ve described, scrapping around for money.

But Vivian did change how I saw things because he reminds us that with our interactions, we leave people feeling better or worse.

Of course we know the right answer is to leave others feeling better, not worse. But we still lash out at times, or we bring a dark cloud with us in our conversations with friends.

Why do that to others, but more importantly, why do that to yourself?

And if you’re spending to help yourself feel better, that might not work in the long run.


Live Young, Live Well – Work Your Love

Think others might benefit? I’m counting on you. Forward this on.



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