Back To Speeches

Speech by Mr Calvin Soh


Good afternoon, esteemed lecturers, relieved parents, and young graduates who will soon have to contribute to the rent, detergent, electricity…

Many years ago, I was like you. I stood on the precipice of life’s bungee jump, afraid yet exhilarated. It was also like going on a blind date.

Except, in those years, I was less qualified than you. I had 4 ‘O’ levels to my name. In those days, qualifications were the only thing that would guarantee a good job. Of course, now you can buy a degree but that’s another story.

Nonetheless, I made something of myself and had a pretty successful career.

So I’d like to share values that helped me.

  1. Be a class act. Never ever be ungrateful no matter how tempting.
  2. Be a dot collector. One day when you look back, you will be amazed how they connect together.
  3. If you fall down, get up. Don’t be ashamed of failure. I’ve failed many times but I see that as part of success. You can’t be successful without failing.In America, Venture capitalists will value someone who has failed 10 times, more than someone who hasn’t failed at all. Think about it.
    If you had $100, would you invest it in someone who has tried to ride the bike 10 times or someone who hasn’t? Who’s more likely to ride the bike?
    So you need to change your perception of failure.

I’m going to stop here. Because these values worked well for the 20th century when I started my career. But for the 21st century, you need another set of values. You are living through exponential change where there’s no guarantee your next job or career will exist in 10 year’s time. No, make that 5.

I think the 21st century values you need are creativity, empathy, collaboration, curiousity and most importantly, self-empowerment.

I have to prepare my own children for it too. So what I say to them, I’m going to say to you now…Story book style. As illustrated by my son.

Transcript ends.

Back To Speeches