Sunday Times column – Telling Tales At Dinner Time

The Straits Times recently invited me to contribute columns on parenting to their Sunday Times newspaper. So here’s my first piece, of which I originally titled “Telling Tales At Dinner Time” but a copy editor thought otherwise. In any case, it’s pleasant to see my byline again after so many years after I left journalism.

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Closing thoughts of 2016

I’ll keep this year’s entry short, even though it’s been one of the most eventful and exciting years ever. I have learned so many things in this short timeframe, thanks to the decisions I’ve made to change my life. Here is a sharing of some of the thoughts that struck me this year and guide the way I live and work.

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Thoughts at 40

It was weird how the day I turned 40 in August was the same day I became long-sighted.

Suddenly, I had to hold my smartphone further away to read the fine print, and the same goes for my Pebble 2 smartwatch which features tiny fonts thanks to its millennial designers.

How did my eyeballs know when to start degrading with clockwork precision?

Indeed, 40 is a strange age to be in. I’m not old enough to be a cranky elderly citizen, nor am I young enough to be considered a spring chicken.

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Outrageous to legalize online gambling in Singapore

I’m outraged and I’m disgusted.

I came home from work today and read the news that the Singapore government had allowed Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club to operate online betting services.

Just like that.

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Hard advice and mentorship

This is the second part of my thoughts on surviving the seismic changes in the economy and staying relevant at any age. The first part is “Skills and the fight against irrelevancy“. But I have learned that even wielding the most updated skills is not enough if you do not get good advice on a constant basis.

Recently, my children asked me over dinner why I have a blog and why do I write all these articles (690 posts since 2005!)

I said : “Firstly, this is a record of my thoughts and ideas for you. Kind of like the fancy ‘memory crystal’ that Jor-El hands down to Ka-El in the Superman movie. So if I die tomorrow, you cannot complain your father did not tell you anything.”

“Second, this blog is a repository of my experiences and ideas, so my friends and readers can read what I would otherwise spend a long time telling them. ”

The kids shrugged and went back to eating their dinner and quarreling with each other.

Oh well.

Channelnewsasia recently ran a very sobering chapter of Talking Point, on how many PMETs in their 30s and 40s are hardest hit by job losses. It’s a long 23-min episode that is worth your time to watch (I didn’t embed it here because the video uses the obsolete Silverlight plug-in, so just click the link).

In both the video and my previous post, there is a lot of discussion about changing mindsets, obsolete skills and skills upgrading. The usual shebang of dealing with being 40+ and jobless.

But people make the mistake of thinking it is just about skills.

I’ve seen that the root of the problem (of becoming irrelevant) goes deeper than that, and starts at the beginning of one’s working life (or perhaps even during the schooling years).

To stay ahead of the curve, to fight irrelevancy and to survive, we need to seek out hard advice and mentorship. This is a practice from the beginning of time, but many people reject because they find it too hard to do (when it isn’t).

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Skills and the fight against irrelevancy

This blog post was written about four months ago but it took me a long time to think through it and observe more about what was happening to my generation of people hitting their 40s. Retrenchment, job dissatisfaction, disruption and so much uncertainty. This first part deals with some observations of modern work and skills, and the next part will cover my reflections on all the advice I have received on these matters. This is a long rambling article, somewhat reflective of the constant churn of thoughts and emotions in my head.

I recently came across an online story of an SAF army regular who said he was changing jobs to become an Uber driver so that he could spend more time with his family. I did not read the story in detail, but the story angle stuck in my mind. (Sorry, I lost the URL link)

In Singapore, Uber and GrabTaxi have vastly improved the taxi network by matching users with drivers in an efficient manner. Many people have also found Uber to be a good fallback when they lose their jobs, or an opportunity to make better use of the inactive family car. Some young folks are using Uber as a way to possess a car for driving when their own finances won’t allow it.

Putting food on the table is critical. However, what happens to your personal development when you become a crowd-sourced driver?

Continue reading Skills and the fight against irrelevancy