This 3 Minute Speech Will Change Your Life

“Sal is love. Sal is life.”

That is just one of the comments you will find on this commencement speech on YouTube.

It was at MIT in 2012 when Sal Khan of Khan Academy made one of the best speeches I ever heard.

I have time skipped it to the best part. Enjoy.

Imagine it’s 50 years from now. You are near the end of your career.

Imagine you are on your couch. Just finished watching the news. It’s 2067.

You turn off the channel and start reflecting on your life.

You start to think about the successes you had – career successes, family successes, the great memories that you had.

But then you start to think about the things you wished you did a little bit different.

Your regrets.

You wish you spent more time with your children.

You wish you spent more time telling your spouse how much you love them more frequently.

You wish you spent more time telling your parents how much you appreciate them before they passed away.

And just while that is happening, a genie appears.

And the genie says “I’ve been listening in on your regrets, you seem like a good person. I am willing to give you a second chance if you are open to it.”

And so you say “Sure…”

And the genie snaps its fingers and you blink your eyes.

When you open your eyes, you find yourself right there where you are right now – 12 Sept 2017, reading this post.

And you say “Oh my god, I’m in my 20 something fit, pain-free body again!”

“I am around my friends again, my parents, my girlfriend/boyfriend.”

“This genie was serious – I do have a second chance!”

“I can have all the successes, the adventures I had the first time around. But now I can optimize things.”

“I have my parents. I can finally spend more time with them and tell them how much I appreciate them.”

“I have my other half and when I hug them, I can hug them little harder.”

“When I laugh, I can laugh louder.”

“I can sing more, I can dance more, I can laugh more.”

“I can be a greater source of positivity and empowerment for those around me.”

I often do exercises like these a lot to make me appreciate what I have going for me – my youth and my loved ones around me.

After that thought experiment, how do you plan to live your life starting today? 🙂

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Credit or Influence? The Mistake We All Make

To be someone or to do something?

One day you will come to a fork in the road, and you’re going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go.

If you go one way, you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises, you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club, you will be promoted, and you will get good assignments.

If you go the other way, you can do something. Something for your country, and for your airfare, and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted, and you may not get good assignments. And you will certainly not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won’t have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and yourself. And your work might make a difference.

To be somebody, or to do something.

In life, there is often a roll call. That’s when you will have to make a decision.

To be or to do, which way will you go?

– Colonel John Boyd

The question at hand is whether are you after recognition or are you after the work itself.

 

Has this ever happened to you?

You work day and night on a project only for the credit to be due to someone else?

Or that you made the most significant contribution to the team only to have the leader get the spotlight due to your subordinate and less convincing standing?

 

The frustration

It is very easy to get carried away at the start of our careers. We want every effort we make to be recognized and praised. Every correct decision we make to be remembered by our peers. After all, we deserve it right?

But it doesn’t always go that way, especially if you are novice or a beginner. Some wouldn’t even take you seriously because you are in an entry level position and you have yet to prove yourself over the long run

Sometimes, even if we stay in a position long enough, we still do not get the credit we so desire.

 

The goals

When we finish college and come out to the “real world”, we are starving with ambition and racing against the clock to be somebody.

We want to be that person who is married to a very desirable mate by 27.

We want to be that rising star that climbs up the corporate ladder and become the Vice President by 28.

We want to be that person who is a millionaire by 30.

Are we working for credit? Is the need to be recognized by others for our achievements the driving force of our lives? Is the need to be somebody so important? We often hear our friends say that they want to “be somebody.” The titles, the glamour, the respect and the adoration of the public.

 

Mr Goh

I was reading the late Lee Kuan Yew’s memoirs, From Third World to First and came across a man named Goh Keng Swee. He was the Finance Minister and Interior and Defense Minister in the early years.

The highest rank he ever gotten to was Deputy Prime Minister in his lifetime. Although he was second to Mr Lee on paper, Mr Lee praised him highly for being the man who contributed the most to the building of Singapore.

If it was utter recognition & credit Mr Goh was after, being the center of attention and be adored by international media, he would have been sour about not getting as much press for his achievements compared to Mr Lee himself.

But he wasn’t that type, doing the work is enough. Getting the glamour and adoration of the public was secondary to actually contributing to the public.

 

The practical view

There is another practical view as to why influence is far healthier option to go after than credit.

Influence (the work itself) is within our control. We can manage expectations in the course of our own work. We can choose to take it as a challenge or just enjoy ourselves.

Credit (recognition) requires someone else to validate your actions.

In other words, you are placing your self-worth into the hands of other people. Letting them become the authors of your life story and self esteem. Like being on a leash to the whims and fancies of others, being steered in whatever direction they want to go.

For a young person such as yourself, placing high regard into something highly volatile such as this spells disaster to your self worth in the long run.

 

Remember:

I learnt an important idea early on in my life and it goes like this:

“Accept applause, but don’t expect it.”

 

The One Question To Determine If You Have Found Your Passion

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All our lives we are told to find our passion. Don’t settle, they said. But how?

Is it some type of inner compass that we ought to follow but don’t?

Do you wake up one day and get inspired?

Do you try everything and find it only then?

Like you, I wasn’t satisfied with a lot of these answers.

All the questions above play a role in finding your life’s task.

But I find that there is an acid test that you can use today on anything you are pursuing right now that will more or less determine your passion, which is:

What would you do everyday even if you were failing?

I actually asked my Instagram audience this very question and there was one common answer.

“Football”

Given the fact that most of my audience were young guys, they said they wouldn’t mind practicing football over and over again even if they kept losing to the opposing team.

Now what is something that you found yourself doing again and again regardless of outcome?

Something that you enjoy doing because the work is enough to keep you satisfied, not the result.

You may be closer to your passion than you think.

It’s not easy to find something that doesn’t dampen your enthusiasm even if you fail again and again.

As Winston Churchill once said,

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.

Think:

Much like a soldier is asked what would he or she die for, you are asked what are you willing to fail for?

How Marketing Made Me a Better Performer, Lover and Friend

Seriously? Yes, seriously.

Learning marketing since graduation has been a game changer in my professional and personal life.

But I was never always open to it…

Growing up, I always considered sales and marketing to be reserved for the ones who can’t get a decent job.

But boy was I wrong.

 

Since learning about marketing and working as a marketer, I started to notice a change in the way I see things and interact with others.

I think it’s safe to say that marketing changed my life in ways I never expected.

Here are just some of the benefits.

 

1. Learning to get attention made me more romantic

When you scroll down your Facebook feed, do you click because it interest you or because it was so boring that you had to click it?

Marketers are in the business of getting attention. And to get attention, the idea has to be interesting.

But you can’t be interesting overnight.

You don’t take a”World’s Most Interesting Man” pill and wake up super cool. (If there is, please let me know)

You would have to follow trends or at least find creative angles to tell your story.

Turning something boring into something interesting is the name of the game.

This doesn’t just apply to repackaging or re-positioning.

It applies to our romantic relationships as well.

As G.K Chesterton puts it,

We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.

Meaning we are not looking for new things per se, but that we looking for new ways to look at things.

I was listening to relationship expert Esther Perel on the Tim Ferriss Show and she said something that I remembered:

“If people only use 10% of their creativity for cheating and put to their current love lives, they will surprised how far they can take it.”

Think about, if you woke up without a memory of your relationship, you would find your partner attractive and interesting as you did in the beginning.

Ever heard old husbands who say they look at their wives as though it was their first time? Sounds familiar eh?

Learning marketing also helped me get excited about the littlest things.

It helps me reframe any situation or thing to make it all the more interesting and exciting.

 

2. Learning to psycho people made me more sociable

 

I was a serial introvert.

If I were an OS, my socializing muscle will be under “Least Used Apps”.

But since getting into marketing, I started to overcome my shyness and nervousness of making new friends.

It all starts with what marketing is.

Marketing is persuasion at scale.

To persuade, you need to understand the basics of psychology.

Like what are your customers like and how to sell to them.

It goes deeper than that though.

Being a marketer demands that you adopt different worldviews to appeal to different people.

In result, creating a growth oriented, open minded person.

A person who is open to different cultures, values and experiences.

You stop thinking that your view of the world is the only one that is correct.

You start listening to what others say more intently.

You take criticism more easily and you don’t let your ego get in the way of your judgement.

 

By being welcoming of other people’s views, you are bound to have more things in common with them.

And the more you have more things in common with people, the easier it is to become friends.

You make more friends and your professional and personal network starts to grow.

 

3. Learn that perception is reality

Here’s a quote from Steve Jobs:

When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money.

That’s a very limited life.

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

Everything you know to be true is only true because you believe it to be.

All the things you were told growing up were made up by people who were just as clueless as you.

As you learn marketing, you start to realize an ugly truth: that all social norms were created out of thin air and most of our beliefs are shaped by the media we are exposed to.

Stories are the currency of our lives.

The diamond engagement was only popular since the 1920s because it was marketed as a thing that only real men do. (oh, and the two-month salary rule, wasn’t created by buyers, it was created by sellers.)

Smoking cigarettes became mainstream because tobacco companies had huge marketing budgets to have celebrities smoke. It became cool. Now, with all the health hazards, the tobacco companies are marketing the act of smoking as a matter of “freedom of choice.”

And one quick question, which you think is more dangerous – using an airplane or using a car?

Most people would think airplane, but statistically driving a car is far more dangerous.
The odds? 11,000,000:1 for airplanes. 5,000:1 for cars.

We think airplane because of availability heuristic. Because the news talks about a plane crash for weeks, we think its more dangerous to use an airplane, but lookup your newspaper and you will see that car crashes happen everyday.

I found out about this learning behavioral psychology and the mental shortcuts we use when making decisions.

Being aware of all this – the stories we are told and the biases we have helps me tremendously when I make important decisions.

It helps me find out my weaknesses.

For example, I haven’t been exercising for months.

But since I learnt about the psychology of nudges, I decided to place my gym clothes on my desk.

It’s the first thin I see when I wake up in the morning.

The result? Just placing my clothes very openly where I can see them made me exercise more.

 

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As you can see, marketing has had a profound effect on how I see things in the world.

I have become more sociable, romantic, self-aware and effective.

I have since also had a hunger for wisdom. For knowledge that can make my life and those around me more enjoyable.

 

What recently changed your life for the better? 🙂

 

The paradox of modern day pursuits

You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.” – Seneca

There is one great paradox and irony that most of us face everyday. Some of us don’t even think it’s a problem.

In life, two things take up most of our time – our work and everything else.

I say that because we often get carried away with our prioritization over work at times when we should not.

***

I came this realization after two instances.

The first was when my manager asked me why I was working so unusually late. I said “to increase my chances of success.”
And that’s when she replied: “Work will never end. You can complete it today but there will always be more tomorrow.”

The second time was after meeting a friend of mine and finding his spending habits bizarre — he would spend frugally on himself and spend lavishly on those he holds dear. I eventually came to realize that his form of happiness is in making other people happy, the same way I derive pleasure from having my work recognized.

The truth is, we spend our waking hours in pursuit of wealth or to be productive. We feel the need to make sure our time is of utility – if not for financial rewards, then for personal convenience in the future.

We know that the work will never end. Or put it this way – we know the work will always be available if we so choose to pick it up again.

But can the same be said of our family and friends?

We can always “resume” work, the same way we can always collect more property and be the bearer of more titles.

But we can’t say the same for our loved ones as they may not always be around.

To put bluntly, they all have an expiration date — and the pursuit of property and productivity does not.

***

Too often we hear of the old man who regrets not spending more time with his children when they were younger because he was busy working.

Or that all too familiar feeling of living alone in a house stuffed with toys, but feeling empty inside and lonely.

I agree that it is far too simplistic to have a conclusion such as “money can’t buy happiness”.
It can buy comfort in the beginning, and happiness up to a point (according to Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, the optimal number is $75,000 a year) and satisfaction from then on.

We need money for survival and we should work for it.
But don’t lose sight of the reason why you are doing it in the first place.

***

Spend time with your loved ones and show them you love them. It doesn’t have to take hours, it just has to take thought.

Like a soldier heading off to battle, get your affairs in order at home so you can be at peace when you leave to carry out your duties.