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If you still want to use the word…

My happiest moment of the first working day of the year came when the boss asked me to run errands, delivering documents to various places. Whilst everyone else was celebrating being back in the office, I was celebrating my precious minutes away.

Yes, I make no secret of the fact that I detest the office and I detest sitting at a desk looking at documents. There is nothing so dehumanising as being stuck in front of a desk looking at a screen or a file for one third of your life. Let’s be totally honest here, what value to desk jockeys actually produce other than whatever comes out of their private parts as they spend their days jerking off to the amount of paper generated? Covid made it very clear that the guys who actually contributed to the well being of society were not in offices. The world carried on without stockbrokers, bankers and other “respectable” professions that are office bound. By contrast, we could not do without the guys who swept the streets and cleared the trash.

They are successful – but what good to they actually do for anyone beyond their magic circle? – Copyright The Straits Times

I admit that I work for someone who is office bound because it pays better for the hours, I put in than blue collar work. I try to make it clear to my employer that asking me to do office work like writing reports and reading documents is a sure way to create a disaster and I am only good for dispatch work. I think of PN Balji, my former boss, who described me a good “guerrilla PR man,” but God help anyone who wants me to write a strategy paper.

My mentality has made me a failure in the Singapore context. However, I can live with that because, well, the alternative would be worse – being a prisoner to a profession. This would mean only mixing with people like yourself and more worryingly, you develop the mindset that what you do, or your profession is the be all and end all of everything. I’ve noticed this in the professions that I’ve either been in or worked with closely (advertising, PR, law and accountancy). Spending a third of your life only with people like yourself is bad for the brain.

If you want to be an effective working professional, you need to avoid in-breeding and to ensure that you see the world rather than your corner of it because, well your corner actually depends on the rest of the world. The industry that’s most guilty of forgetting this is advertising, where the common criticism of advertising people is that they’re more interested in winning awards (judged by other advertising people) than in selling products.

I think an ad that was run by “Tiger Beer” many years ago, which ran around the lines of “What Time is It – It’s Tiger Time.” The people I spoke to in the industry thought the ad was awful. My friends outside the industry couldn’t stop raving. The CEO of the ad agency that produced the ad made the point that they were interested in working for their client rather than to impress their fellow professionals. [LINK]

Didn’t Impress fellow professionals – but it got the customer thinking

In a way, the title “working professional” has been abused in as much as it makes people in the said profession think that they’re magicians of sort because they went to certain schools and more importantly went through the rigors of licensing. Again, I think of the number of communications professionals who are hung up about the fact that they are “communications professionals” but thought of who they were communicating to as an inconvenience.

Ultimately, working professionals need to remember that they are a small cog to their client’s overall business. Yes, they need to know their craft, which requires a good amount of studying. However, there is only magic in that craft if it adds something to the final product. Hence, PR works if it enhances the brand. Advertising is only magical if it gets products sold. Accounting is only valuable if it allows businessmen to manage money better. Lawyers are only valuable if they can serve their clients.

So, to achieve that, you need to live beyond the magic circle of your profession and the only way to do that is to move beyond people in the same field, which means not a third of your life trapped in a cubicle only talking to people who are exactly like you. Genetic science has shown that incest is bad. The same can be said for only in-breeding with people in exactly the same profession.

 

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.

 

 

yyy
READER COMMENTS BELOW

12 Responses to “If you still want to use the word…”

  • John Richards:

    ‘What time is it?’ Well, it was a ripoff of an old Miller beer commercial. So yes, it that respect it was shit!

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  • awards to quality:

    //The industry that’s most guilty of forgetting this is advertising, where the common criticism of advertising people is that they’re more interested in winning awards (judged by other advertising people) than in selling products.//

    aiyoh. same as many products / services on adding frills n whistles to stand out until the core characteristics becomes rojak ?? like durian mooncake, salted-egg bak kwa, XO this and that, etc. ??? orelse how to grow the economy and make people spend (significant portion is going to wastage ??) ??

    what to do ?? people attach (conditioned to attach) awards to quality leh ??? and some awards are just wayang lar ??

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  • P Against People:

    Reminds me of award scams. You pay money, you get award with a big “professional” award ceremony. It’s a very profitable international business.

    awards to quality:
    //The industry that’s most guilty of forgetting this is advertising, where the common criticism of advertising people is that they’re more interested in winning awards (judged by other advertising people) than in selling products.//

    aiyoh. same as many products / services on adding frills n whistles to stand out until the core characteristics becomes rojak ?? like durian mooncake, salted-egg bak kwa, XO this and that, etc. ??? orelse how to grow the economy and make people spend (significant portion is going to wastage ??) ??

    what to do ?? people attach (conditioned to attach) awards to quality leh ??? and some awards are just wayang lar ??

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  • Agreed:

    That’s why I went to join different industries and work with different group of people with different perspective .
    Better still ,work in different countries to expand our horizon and narrow mind…

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Agreed:
    That’s why I went to join different industries and work with different group of people with different perspective .

    Well said. Totally agreed.

    Meet different people in different industries and it will wider your perspective.

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Agreed:
    Better still ,work in different countries to expand our horizon and narrow mind…

    In my job, I do not have any chance to work in other countries except travel there for training.

    But heck, I decided to create the chance myself instead of whining and whining and do NOTHING.

    So, after I learned that my office open a small 5 man office in one of ASEAN country, I told my boss I will attend the new office opening ceremony with my own leaves, paid my own plane/hotel/food expenses.

    Wow, it is truly a refreshing experience.

    I not only get to know the 5 new staff in person, I also get to know the customers in that industry and their sub branch in this region.

    So whenever they call our SG office for the sales rep and could not find them, they will call me and ask me to help remind the sales rep to call back.

    Geez.. I have added value for myself much to the annoyance of the sales person as they felt they can no longer siam here and siam there..hahaha

    I always tell them, don’t try to siam ok..

    take people’s money must help people 拿人錢財,替人消災

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Continue…
    Because the trip help me wider my perspective, I decided to every six months take leave on Thurs/Fri and travel to nearby ASEAN countries and link up with their local charity group (honourable one, not hanky panky type) to help them.

    No religion involve. That was pre covid time.

    Yes, I am convince we are ASEANIAN.. we must speed up integration within ASEAN.

    And yes, I also met one young retiree in ASEAN and he offer me tips on how to bypass regulation to own a house there.

    It is truly amazing when you walk the ground.

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  • Voyr:

    Yes, walk the garden and secretly video (old) lovebirds and share with similar kind.

    Singaporeans R Free Riders: It is truly amazing when you walk the ground.

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Voyr:
    Yes, walk the garden and secretly video (old) lovebirds and share with similar kind.

    Hahaha..no need to secretly video .. I openly do it.

    Bicycle Motorbike Helmet Camera
    https://bit.ly/3CDEzhd

    Last december I wore this camera on my helmet and went cycling.

    I stop by Paya Lebar Quarter to buy drinks and guess what I saw?

    An Ang Mo kept hiding his face behind his Pinoy girl whenever I turned at his direction… hahahaha…funny sia

    Hahaha Yes, no need to secretly to video …

    Lots of Awkward Couples!
    https://bit.ly/3ZnwSWi

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  • xoxo:

    Hahaha,@*It is truly amazing when you walk the ground…*
    There you GO CONNING again.
    Even smart MINISTERS/MPs will GET CONNED by FAKE FEEDBACK N FAKE *GROUND* which is spruced up just for the MP’s *walkabout*???

    Then,come NATIONAL DAY,GET PBM N BBM???

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Voyr:
    Yes, walk the garden and secretly video (old) lovebirds and share with similar kind.

    btw, that is not lovebirds.. these are chi ko pek

    Chi ko pek uncle ask Vietnam girl at joo chiat “want catch MY pikachu”
    https://news.nestia.com/detail/-/7238047

    chi ko pek from ktv cluster
    https://news.nestia.com/detail/-/7086752

    GUY PEES UNDER BLOCK
    https://singaporeuncensored.com/guy-pees-under-block-steps-on-his-own-pee-leaves-behind-pee-footprints/

    Man cries when JB MASSEUSE TOUCHED S’PORE MAN’S KUKU BIRD
    https://singaporeuncensored.com/jb-masseuse-touched-spore-mans-kuku-bird-asked-if-hes-gay-after-he-rejected-her/

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    xoxo:
    Hahaha,@*It is truly amazing when you walk the ground…*
    There you GO CONNING again.
    Even smart MINISTERS/MPs will GET CONNED by FAKE FEEDBACK N FAKE *GROUND* which is spruced up just for the MP’s *walkabout*???

    Then,come NATIONAL DAY,GET PBM N BBM???

    So the million dollars question is, what are you going to do to right your claimed of FAKE FEEDBACK N FAKE *GROUND* so that ministers will hear the real feedback and real ground.

    I believe TRE 8000+ readers are very keen to hear your solution.

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