I Know I’m Attractive – But I Just Don’t Know Who I Am Attractive To

I remember when I first started going bald, my second stepfather (who happens to be bald) assured me that it was perfectly OK because, he said, “Women still love you.” I didn’t know what he meant and I never thought of myself as being particularly attractive in any sense of the word. Despite wanting to be known as the worst sort of cad, I’ve never actually had many women in my life. I’m unfortunately miles closer to Jimmy Carter, who only committed adultery in his heart than Bill Clinton who couldn’t stop committing it.

So, if you consider my history of being a man who wanted to be unquestionably attractive but lost hair at a young age, reading articles in the “gossip” press about how “bald men are more attractive,” was always a bit of boost to the ego. It was kind of a “gee, I have hope” type of feeling. However, as I got older, I suddenly realized that I was attractive, the question was more of, who was I attracting.

This has been a question that I’ve been asking myself lately, especially whenever it comes to this blog. I started the blog with no thought of where it would lead me. At the time, I started, the blog was more of a hobby. There was no particular focus of who I wanted to attract. My PR freelancing work had gotten a big boost from the Saudi Embassy job and I was being published regularly by Today (which paid commentary writers back in those days) and I also got paid for some of the work I did for Arab News. The blog was a place where I could place articles that the main stream did not publish and I didn’t think of what I wanted to call it – the original name was a misspelling and I figured that people would be interested enough in anyone who had the gut to have a crappy name in the public domain.

I never set out to “sell” myself as a blogger. I only noticed that I had an audience of sorts one fine day when I discovered that Google was tracking the analytics. Then I reached forty and was reminded on a few occasions that my working life span was getting shorter and I’d need to develop some form of intellectual property to earn me a few pennies as the income from actual work diminished. It was then that I took developing this blog a bit more seriously. It was, I guess the one thing I had been consistent at. I also remember my favourite litigator telling me that this was the way I would attract people like me to me.

So, the question is, who is like me? I don’t have a solid answer to that and I may never have. I also haven’t made pots of money. My advertising revenue is sad, I barely have enough for an ice cream at the end of the month. However, if I look at the people who have approached me through the blog and where the pennies have come from, I have an interesting snap shot.

Let’s start with the fact that I’ve actually had an offer to buy over the rights of two blog postings. The buyer is the owner of a small but dynamic law firm, run by a lawyer who takes great pride in being a lawyer for the small and medium enterprises. This is a lawyer who has at times struggled against the established order of his profession but instead of worrying that the approval of his fellow professionals, he prefers to focus on the most important people in any business – the customers and rather than focusing on the opinions of his profession, he’s trying to make life easier for the people who use his profession, as can be seen by his latest piece of intellectual property.

His philosophy towards the law is pretty similar to mine when it comes to public relations, advertising and promotions. Too many people in PR are obsessed with working for some multinational and the awards that they’ll win. For me, who cares if you’re employed by Hill & Knowlton or Webber Shandwick, when you could be doing things for the people who there are other people willing to pay you directly and the press people appreciate you for getting someone who could tell a good story.

My friend is far more successful than I am in his business but we have a similar philosophy and we share a dislike for people who think that kicking the crap of people that society neglects is part and parcel of life.

The other thing that I noticed were the numbers of the Ad Sense analytics. A glance at the readers and impressions by country, within the last week is as follows:

My primary audience remains Singapore and the people who help my ad revenue are from Singapore. Online advertising is primarily a numbers game and the money comes from where the most clicks come from, which in turn comes from where the most impressions (as in the number people looking at your page long enough to decide if they’re interested in the ads on the page) come from, which in turn comes from where the page views come from.

Makes sense that someone writing about Singapore would attract the most readers from Singapore and it goes without saying that I push my pieces to people in Singapore because this is where I’ll get the most traction.

What’s particularly interesting is the countries that come in next, which my case is the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. I have some family in America and Australia, though, with the exception of my thoughts on the Trump and Middle Eastern politics, most of what I write would be of little interest to anyone who has not lived in Singapore. Off the top of my head, I only know of one school friend living in New Zealand and nobody from Canada. Yet, these countries have been the most consistent in providing me with a source of readers.

So, who in these countries would want to read about the socio-politics of Singapore? I suspect, its former Singaporeans, who still have some interest in what goes on in their “country of origin.”

I don’t have any hard evidence for this. Google Analytics does not reveal deep details of the people who click on a link and I remain blissfully insignificant for anyone to commission to study.

However, around three weeks ago, I Linked up on Linkedin with a professor, who used to teach at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), who had moved to Australia and doing his own thing in the robotics industry. In his message to me, he said he had been following my writing on TR Emeritus.

If I take my new friend’s Linkedin profile at face value, I realized that this is the type of person that Singapore needs. Someone who was willing to give up a conventional path in academia to try something in a new and dynamic field of study and business (robotics being the high-tech future making stuff that Singapore’s civil service appears to drool over). The man is apparently doing very well for himself.

The question that this new friendship has got me asking is – how many are there like him. Good sons of Singapore who had to move and settle overseas to make their mark. I think of this question because the issue of “foreign talent” crowding out locals in Singapore has been a consistent one in the last decade. It’s been the thorn in the side of the government and they’ve always said that they’ve needed to bring in people from elsewhere to get things done. The argument is that we don’t have the people to do the jobs of the future.

I have nothing against brining people in. There are skills that need to be imported and I believe that on balance, greater diversity can only lead to better things or as I often say when I’m in a crass mood, that I don’t have an issue with 10 million more people if it leads to an improvement in the gene pool.

However, if my new friend is anything to do by, I don’t think its true that we are not producing people capable of making the future. I suspect that we are but somehow these people get stifled and discouraged from actually doing it. I’m not saying that life in the US, New Zealand or anywhere else is necessarily better but there is obviously a group that has done significantly better once they’ve left Singapore.

Now, some of it could be financial. It’s been going on with Westerners for years. I remember two of my best friends from England complaining about the “Barrow Boys,” who had come over to Asia to become bank CEOs – their point being “You guys must be desperate – I wouldn’t hire any of them.” Then again, why would you blame any Westerner for moving here? As a friend of mine said, “Wouldn’t you move to a country that worshiped you for being short, fat and bald or all of that?”

However, we’re not talking about people who had the “expat” life. We’re talking about people who did world renown stuff. Think of Kevin Kwan, the man who wrote Crazy Rich Asians or Melvyn Tan, the pianist. These guys are well renown in their craft by the entire world, except the country in which they were born.

Why is it such that people like that, don’t stay? Why hasn’t someone done a study on why such people don’t stay or what can we do to keep them doing something that works for Singapore. Sure, I get it, Singapore is a small place and for certain things one should explore and take advantage of what the wider world has to offer.

Yet, I can’t help feeling that there’s a part of officialdom that doesn’t want to admit that the natives can be excellent at something. Officialdom is out there buying talent from elsewhere but at the same time trying to stifle what we have at home. I think of the Ben Davis saga, where MINDEF practically tried to turn this boy into a national traitor because he wasn’t giving up the chance to play for one of the biggest names in football. In the modern age, its easy to find flexibility, especially if benefits the nation’s brand.

I think of the millions we spent on foreign athletes in order to win a medal on the international scale. If memory serves correctly, we got a silver in one of the Olympic Games. The medalist in question took the money and promptly moved back to China. Then, there were the Schoolings who practically sold their flat to ensure their kid would pursue his dream. Luckily for Singapore, he chose to swim for us and we have a gold medal and a moment when Majullah Singapura was played around the world.

Again, I don’t have hard proof or statistics to show this and that. What I have is purely anecdotal, however, I don’t think I’m wrong. I remember Lee Kuan Yew once giving an interview on how Singapore could never produce anything worldwide, world-class or world anything because the harsh truth is, we are a tiny nation with limits.

That was so sad to hear because, this was the man who made us something to be proud of on the world stage, telling us that we had to stay in our limits and just be content to be a digit for some multinational or some government agency.

We spend an incredible amount of time and energy to get lots of foreign things (talent, investment etc) in the name of making things work for Singapore. Yet, at the same time, we spend an enormous amount of time going to war against the local population whenever a section of it chooses something different from the norm. We could save so much and gain so much if we stopped trying to force everyone into a tin can that needed to hire pale and blotchy people to tell them what was good for them.

There are Singaporeans out there who have managed to make something of themselves in the wider world. Even if they may no longer have Singaporean passports, they still have some interest in the affairs on their home land. Surely, tapping on this diaspora would pay dividends in so many ways.

Who are the people like me? I like to think it’s Singaporeans who love this country and the home it gives but want to do something other than what officialdom deems Singaporeans capable of doing. We are not asking for anything. We merely want the chance to do our little thing, at ease with whoever is in power. Leaving us alone is simple and it pays. Find a way to work with us and everyone wins.


Tang Li

*Although I’ve been based mainly in Singapore for nearly two decades, I’ve had the privilege of being able meet people who have crossed borders and cultures. I’ve befriended ministers and ambassadors and worked on projects involving a former head of state. Yet, at the same time, I’ve had the privilege of befriending migrant labourers and former convicts. All of them have a story to tell. All of them add to the fabric of life. I hope to express the stories that inspire us to create life as it should be




13 Responses to “I Know I’m Attractive – But I Just Don’t Know Who I Am Attractive To”

  • talent:

    True talent is only recognize when oversea.
    Our talented Singaporean is highly appreciated abroad but not here.
    Even crap from oversea are considered talent here…
    Need to change our mindset…

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  • RDB:

    Thank you very much Tang Li for your sucsing views and creative epistle
    that I hope will be thorn that will prick those GaGament chaps to fell that they ARE NOT really the best as they have also to self praise and pat themselves on their own backs. So… they DO NOT even know that… SELF PRAISE IS INTERNATIONAL DISGRACE, ESPECIALLY AS A GaGamenT DO they! As, do they even know that pride comes before a fall, especially as a governmet lah!!!

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  • Dave junior:

    Always remember ::: God created a few Perfect heads and He covers the rest with hair

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  • Uselesstankl:




    Are Malaysians PAID IN RINGGIT ???


    Yet we have that Khaw BWan putting BUS drivers from my alaysia in ***** star hotels at TAX PAYERS COST !!!


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  • Top Money for NO Talents::

    Could you please shorten your article. Why all your articles so long winded?

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  • Bad Boy:

    Bald ? What the relationship with voice of singaporean?

    And What the problem ?

    Many hollywood superstar are bald.

    To name a few,

    1 Ben Kingsley

    2 Lauren Fishburn ( Matrix )

    3 Bruce Willis ( Die Hard )

    4 Vince Diesel ( fast n furious , XXX )

    5 Dayne Johnson the rock ( fast n furious , Jumanji )

    6 Jason Statham ( fast n furious , Mega shark )

    7 Jude Law ( Enemy at the gates )

    8 Samuel Jackson ( the avenger and still going strong )

    9 Patrick Steward ( Old Professor Xavier of Xmen )

    10 Yul Brynner

    11 Stanley Tucci

    12 Sean Connery

    If u look at China Top 100 TV male superstars , none is bald.

    Whereas China top 100 male movie superstars only 2 葛優 and 徐崢 only.

    Who says Chinese no biased , no discrimination ? Same for Korea.

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  • xoxo:

    Well,in Sin City,you dont even have much freedom in voting who you want?
    You put 4 or 5 in a *GROUP* and give voters no choice,even if there is/are one or two candidates found wanting?

    Look at mighty USA,they even have to deliberate over extensively on whether to wear a mask or not?
    I say AMERICA IS CRAZY just as SINGAPORE is albeut on the other extreme?

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  • Sojoürner:

    Dave junior:
    Always remember ::: God created a few Perfect heads and He covers the rest with hair

    Want to appear more intelligent, influential, educated and honest?
    Lose your hair. There’s mounting evidence that bare heads aren’t a spectacular evolutionary accident after all. Bald men are seen as more intelligent, dominant and high status; their shiny scalps may help them to seduce women or even save lives.


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  • Who is crass like Ah Li?:

    ((RE: I have nothing against bringing people in. There are skills that need to be imported and I believe that on balance, greater diversity can only lead to better things or as I often say when I’m in a crass mood, that I don’t have an issue with 10 million more people “if it leads to an improvement in the gene pool”.))

    So you don’t have a problem with packing 10 million people into us sheeples’ little island? You do appear to be the problematic eugenics-psychopath reincarnated. Just leave us alone….

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  • Sojoürner:

    Tang Li:
    I don’t have an issue with 10 million more people if it leads to an improvement in the gene pool.

    I do genealogy and I knew this already. We all have much more “free choice” than we think we have. An article on the heritability and yet NO REFERENCE to Charles Darwin and his critical insight as to the importance of SURVIVAL in fashioning what makes us humans tick.

    I know my taste for ice cream over broccoli is largely genetic. But that does not mean unhealthy eating is destiny, or that I cannot be influenced by information about the health benefits of vegetables. As powerful as genes are, the human brain, even if shaped by genes, puts up a pretty good fight!

    In that light, all of those various behaviors which Tang seem compelled to list as if he is not intimately related to each other suddenly can be seen as emanating from one very primal survival instinct and the way that some people respond to it. That instinct is most often referred to as the FEAR instinct and, with not an awful lot of imagination, all of the behaviors delineated by Tang can be seen as a response to it.

    This column reminds me of an article I came across years ago that proposed the idea that “Belief without proof” may have been a survival factor for early humans. A parent could tell a child not to go over the hill because there is a sabre tooth tiger and you’ll be eaten. Those that did not believe got eaten. Those that believed without proof lived to pass on their genes. Apparently some of us survived without that blind belief, perhaps by cautiously exploring the world around us for ourselves.

    It seems to me that the same research could also support the notion that it is environmental factors at work in shaping people’s attitudes. Intriguing, but as a rule of thumb it’s always advisable to be wary of genetic determinism – especially when it’s presented as an explanation for complex socio-cultural phenomena.

    Likewise, behavioral and attitudinal propensities, regardless of their genetics can be overcome with education and experience. Genetics does not predetermine humanity (although it is critically important we know how it shapes us – so that when it is harmful or contrary to our conception of humanity – we can work to change it).

    Now I wonder… Is there a gene for believing nonsense?

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  • Boh Chee = Human Nature:

    The article too long! Why bring up bald?
    Dont tell me author bald also want to blame PAP.

    To be honest. Some of the foreigner workers does make Sg feel paiseh !
    I personally witness PRC worker one person load and carry 2 sacks of rice ( 1 sack 25 kg ) by himself to the behind of bus terminal coffeeshop. Later on i praise him with 2 thumbs up. He just reply this is nothing. I feel a bit shame as during my NS time, i and platoon mates tio arrowed twice to carry rice sacks to the cookhouse. One person carry 1 sack 25kg. That time carry and walk until face green green. Of course the vehicle parked by the road to the cookhouse is much further than the above coffee shop.

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  • TUMASIK Patriot:

    Looks like my comment will NOT be posted…so for F…sake don’t claim what you are NOT

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  • TUMASIK Patriot:

    TUMASIK Patriot:
    Looks like my comment will NOT be posted…so for F…sake don’t claim what you are NOT

    Do I have to use F lingo to get posted??? what about my earlier 2 posts on Tangfastic and his articles…for F…sake don’t play games lah this is NOT Shitty Time leh!!!

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