Be Brave and Never Forget a Friend

Full text of my speech at Republic Polytechnic Graduation Ceremony.

Mr. Yeo Li Pheow, Principal & C.E.O. of Republic Polytechnic

Mr Boo Chong-Han, Director, School of Infocomm and Senior Director (Special Projects)

Distinguished guests, parents and graduands,

Good Afternoon.

To all graduates, my heartfelt congratulations for getting this far. This is a joyous occasion and I would like you to savour every moment, recall every detail of this graduation ceremony and remember every single person around you today.

Because after this, some of you maybe leaving the school life entirely, some may set up businesses and others may pursue their studies further. Whatever the path you may choose, the certificate that you hold in your hand will assist you… but do more and understand more on how things work. There are 3 things I want you to explore more: your bravery, your purpose and, most importantly, your relationships.

BE BRAVE.

Because there will be struggles ahead. There will be hardwork and there will be people who say your ideas won’t work. Just remember, courageous people do not fear the struggles that may come their way – especially when you chart a path that others avoid. For example, be brave to make that first big leap to set up your own company. That idea that is brewing within you and you just don’t know whether it will work…well, the best companies in the world are built on a simple idea.

After my graduation, I worked professionally for about 7 years in broadcasting before setting up my own company at the age of 30. Today, 16 years into the business, and it has been a fulfilling journey and I will do it all over again in a heartbeat. Be brave to ask that dream girl to marry you. I did :)

Be brave to go after that dream job or that dream project. Because, trust me, you will not be able to sleep until you get what you have been gunning for. Do not wake up one day and realize that you did not give your best to achieve your dreams. Or you may wake up everyday asking WHAT Ifs.  But know this, be brave to start from zero. Make calculated risk and do not be afraid to start from scratch. That’s the best starting point one can have. There’s nothing lower than zero experience. What I have discovered is that when we lower ourselves to learn from anyone, it will enrich us. It will humble us. To me, humility is an act of courage. The most courageous person may not show his strength. Instead, he is patient and compassionate towards others. This will get you far.

UNDERSTAND YOUR PURPOSE.

A lot of young people I met asked me, how will I know my purpose. What is my purpose in life? I say, look at your family. They are YOUR purpose. Make your family happy, make your parents happy, make your siblings happy and, one day when you have children, make them happy too…. It is a simple formula in life - when you make your family happy, YOU WILL BE HAPPY. Your purpose is clear and you will be guided. Do not go out there and work extremely hard but forget the most important people in your lives. People at the top can be lonely. Success is more meaningful when shared by the people who matter. So keep your family close.

Seek advice from your close and trusted ones, especially from your elderly. They maybe old, but their words are gold.

Last but not least, IMPROVE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS with others. At the top of my speech, I mentioned that you should “…savour every moment, recall every detail of this graduation ceremony and remember every single person around you today.” The last point is my focus before I end my speech. I want you to look at your friends around you. Look at them closely and do not forget their faces and make sure you have their contact details. Because these are the people who will rise together with you and you will need them one day. Start building your relationships from now onwards. Let me ask you a simple question. If you are in trouble and your family can’t help you, who else can you call? Yes, friends. I’m not talking about Facebook or Snapchat friends but REAL friends. Friends who will, not only answer your call, but they will be there when you need them. Sometimes you wonder why some friends do not lend a hand when you need them most. But then again, we ask ourselves, where were we when they needed us. Did we invest time with our real friends? Did we visit them when they were sick or when they were down? People remember how you make them feel.

Improving relationships with others will help you achieved continued success. Each one of you will be successful, some more successful than others, but as a group, you have a ready network that you can tap on for future use. If you are close today, and continue to be close in future, one phone call to an old friend can secure major deals. An old friend can open doors easily and give you the access that you needed. A familiar face at a negotiating table can make any collaboration friendlier. An old friend, who might become your suppliers one day, can help to speed up your timeline without incurring additional costs. Invest in your relationships with others today, not just to your friends, but anyone you have the opportunity to meet from now onwards. Never underestimate the importance of any relationship you encounter, whether it is with your suppliers, clients, delivery guys, cooks, receptionists, teachers… anyone. Your work in the future is all inter-connected and relationships do matter significantly. And relationships can help you achieve continued success. You cannot succeed alone.

And, to me, success is not about having the best things in life – big car, big house and big payout – but rather it is about spending the best journey of your life with people you care about and making them happy and empowering others too along the way.

To end my speech, I just want to say to all graduates here: be brave, be ready and courageous of what lies ahead, make your family your purpose in life, never forget a friend and NEVER forget those who help you have a head start in your journey.

All the best everyone! Thank you.


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