I probably read more than 100,000 resumes and interacted with at least 20,000 people over my decade in recruitment.

Each of them carry a story – some are happy but most are pretty sad.

And it is amazing especially when many of these people are highly educated with academic results and certifications that I could only dream of.

And I have been asking myself this question – what can I do as a parent to ensure they have a happy story when they become an adult?

Yes it’s not just focusing on the best primary school they could get in. To me that is the most insignificant thing parents should worry about.

Name me 10 things that you learned in primary school. Now name me 3 of those things that you are applying in your lives today.

You see?

Yes, the foundation of languages, mathematics and science are important. But don’t we just ignore all those teachings and let expensive tuition teachers take care of them instead?

How about friends?

I don’t know about you but personally I retained zero primary school friends. Same for my wife.

The ones that I still faintly kept in touch with actually went on to the same secondary school as me.

How about grades?

In Malcolm Gladwell’s New York Times Best-Seller ‘Outliers: The Story of Success’, he compares two exceptionally intelligent  people, Christopher Lagan and J.Robert Oppenheimer.

Both of them possess the highest IQ level in the world. One became the father of the atomic bomb and the other ended up as a construction worker. The difference is in their level of emotional quotient.

I remember speaking with a job seeker who hail from Raffles Institute and graduated magna cum laude from NUS. He was intent on making yet another career switch and was exasperated why companies aren’t hiring him since he come from RI and has a first class honors.

#facepalm + #tripleeyeroll

If you have the emotional quotient (EQ) of a 7-year old, you won’t get far in life.

So What’s My Game Plan?

It is to equip my boys with a ‘cheat sheet’ to an easier success. Here’s what I intend to focus on:

1. Public Speaking Skill

If there is only one skill to pick up, this is it.

Warren Buffett famously cited that his best investment in life isn’t any of the companies he bought but the Dale Carnegie Public Speaking training he went for.


Performing on stage is a good baby step

And we Singaporeans really suck at public speaking.

During a career training event I got to know this guy who was the former Financial Controller for a statutory board. He was on contract and had been offered the opportunity to move up into the CFO role but that would call for new duties on regular presentation to the board.

He is an introvert by nature (high five!) and was deadly against public presentation.

In the end, his contract wasn’t renewed and the statutory board hired a CFO externally whom replaced the FC role with his own people.

Theasianparent.com has an article on the Top 8 public speaking programmes for kids in Singapore.

I would probably pick the one by Singapore Media Academy. Given their affiliation with Mediacorp, the training should be of good quality.

2. Empathy

A Gallup study revealed that a mere 12% of workers actually leave for more money. That same study also revealed that 75% of workers who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their bosses and not the position itself. So conventional wisdom is in fact true – people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.

Child Labour at Charity Event

Child Labour at Charity Event

Eventually my boys are going to reach a stage in their career where they would need to manage people. It would be an ancestral shame if any of them turn out to be the lousy bosses people quit on.

And I get this so often when I asked job seekers about their reason for leaving. This one always come out tops.

So what’s the best way to increase empathy?

Dacher Keltner, who runs the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley, says that having people think about suffering activates the vagus nerve, which is linked to compassion. He also cites evidence that uplifting stories about sacrifice boost empathy.

I brought my kids to volunteer at an event which the charity I’m sitting on participated in.

They were tasked to do up balloons and bundle them with the stick.

It wasn’t the best job done but perfection wasn’t the objective. They get to witness the people we were trying to help and empathize with their situation.

3. Resilience

I met this candidate who has a Bachelor in Accountancy and good experience in SAP.

For someone to have that back in 2007, you are in hot demand.

But this guy, he was struggling. And I came to realize why.

He was the most negative individual I have ever spoken with. The amount of doom and gloom he spreads over the phone and into me was overwhelming.

Every potential opportunity was dismissed. He can’t fit into a big company, his SAP experience is not enough, people won’t like his face, blah blah blah.

He has the superpower to make winning $10 million Toto a miserable thing.

Would you want your kid to be like that when they become an adult?

So why resilience?

A resilient child becomes an adaptable, happy adult.

Failed at Flying.

Tried and Failed at Flying

The only constant in life is change and it require us to adapt to change or struggle in our efforts to cope with depression, get back up when we fall.

It is the fundamental key to loving relationships, substance abuse prevention, career success, and character development.

That’s why I totally can’t stand parents who hawk over their kids even at playground.

Be careful there. Walk slower. You are going to break your leg. Stop climbing!

Parents, please continue these behaviors. Less alpha male my kids gotta compete with in the future.

For me I’m just gonna let them fall and let them fail.

Michael Jordan famously said, “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

So just let your kids try things. Their lives won’t end because of rough play at the playground. We had it worse when we were kids and we lived.

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