Monthly Archives: May 2012

The things I’ve done the best, were the things I was less certain about. – Neil Gaiman

Best career advice I was given, came from Stephen King. “You should enjoy it”. When he saw the long lines queuing (for Neil’s autograph after the success of “Sandman”.)

A long time ago, I entertained the thought of writing children’s books. L introduced me to Neil Gaiman’s “The Day I swapped my dad for two goldfishes”.    It was hilarious. I went on to read “Coraline”.

Im so pleased to chance upon his commencement speech at the University of Philadelphia.  A summary of the speech can be found on Gus Lubin’s write-up at the Business Insider (re-printed here):

First of all: When you start out on a career in the arts you have no idea what you are doing.

Secondly, If you have an idea of what you want to make, what you were put here to do, then just go and do that.

Thirdly, When you start off, you have to deal with the problems of failure. You need to be thickskinned, to learn that not every project will survive. A freelance life, a life in the arts, is sometimes like putting messages in bottles, on a desert island, and hoping that someone will find one of your bottles and open it and read it, and put something in a bottle that will wash its way back to you: appreciation, or a commission, or money, or love. And you have to accept that you may put out a hundred things for every bottle that winds up coming back.

Fourthly, I hope you’ll make mistakes. If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something. And the mistakes in themselves can be useful. I once misspelled Caroline, in a letter, transposing the A and the O, and I thought, “Coraline looks like a real name…”

And Fifthly, while you are at it, make your art. Do the stuff that only you can do.

Sixthly. I will pass on some secret freelancer knowledge. Secret knowledge is always good. And it is useful for anyone who ever plans to create art for other people, to enter a freelance world of any kind. I learned it in comics, but it applies to other fields too.”

Read more:

Other Commencement speeches:

Source: ST images

The ST often has interesting write-ups about international personalities especially Asian ones.  In a recent article by Susan Long on 18 March 2012, she interviewed retired Chief Economist of GIC, Yeoh Lam Keong.

What an unlikely fellow, amidst the swirling world of high finance and big money, booms and crashes, the ability to rise above it all. Yeoh’s philosophy of life was underscored by his farewell present from colleagues, a T-shirt reading “Buddha says: Stop wanting stupid shit!”

  • What’s your view on this article?
  • What helps you maintain sanity in the world of high finance?


Yeoh attributes Mr Lim Siong Guan, President of GIC, for drumming into him, the importance of being ready to meet the future.

  • What’s philosophy drives your work?


Yeoh’s top worries for Singapore today is whether its policies are social ready

  • What keeps you awake at night?


GIC’s chief economist Leslie Teo describes Yeoh as someone “never afraid to speak his mind even if his views were not popular or politically correct; he was not afraid to explore new and unconventional ideas. He always stood apart from the prevailing culture of the industry – big money, flashy, top of the world – by his concern for the average person and his simple tastes.’

  • How would your colleagues describe you?



Seen on Gretchen Rubin’s blog: The Happiness Project: Melcher to Gretchen Rubin:

1. What was the best moment of the entire trip?

2. What are two interesting things about China [or wherever] that the average person doesn’t know?

3. Tell me about one person you met.

4. Now that you’ve been there yourself, when you think of China, what’s the first image that comes into your head?

5. What was the hardest or most frustrating part of the trip?

6. Did anything go wrong that seems funny now? [I often remind myself of my Secret of Adulthood that “The things that go wrong often make the best memories.”]

7. What little, ordinary thing did you miss from your usual routine?

8. What did you learn about yourself?

9. Now that you’ve been to China, what are two other places you’d like to go?