Life and career talk on one fine Sunday afternoon at Rocket coffeebar.
I feel incredibly grateful when people who are more experienced than me share some knowledge they know or suggestion. It’s such a valuable experience, because they make you think and question yourself a lot as well as make you feel like you learn something.
Having a mutual connection really helps. It gives you a sort of “friend” feeling, and people are more open and willing to talk. It was the first time we met, and this finance turned businessman apologized he talked too much, usually he doesn’t talk a lot but he thinks it would be helpful if someone told him all these things when he was my age. I kept saying thanks and there is no need to say sorry as I truly appreciate it.
It’s not usual that you meet someone for the first time and go straight into deep conversation about life, career, and future. The whole thing was totally unplanned too! But I also find that when I am open and sincere about my current issues, with the right people, they tend to offer their opinion on the subject back to you.
I decided to do this in bullet point style, just to help me organize my thoughts better. Here are some of the things; suggestion and comments I picked up from today’s conversation.
- You have to know what you want.
I got asked so many questions in which I can’t answer. Within a few minutes of conversation, he could tell that my problem is not about whether I am happy with my job or not, but it’s that I don’t know what I want.
What do you want to do?
In what industry?
Do you want to work in big corporate, middle company, or small company?
Do you want big money, or nice salary? (Huge difference)
Do you want to live in Thailand or abroad?
Are you willing to put up with long hours?
And the list goes on.
He said he always knows what he wants to do. He prioritized money and was willing to sacrifice job satisfaction, so he was in trading. He then knew he does not want to have a boss, so he declined Goldman Sachs offer. Also, he was willing to take a big risk, so it was ok to make a lot of money, back to 0, and then work his way up to make a huge amount of money by being his own boss, running, and expanding his own business in Southeast Asia.
But not everyone is like that. So first, you need to decide and figure out what you want, what matter to you.
- Ask yourself a lot of questions, and put them in “Yes” “No” and “Maybe” categories.
Write them down and divide those questions into different categories; of what you want and don’t want, of what you are and are not willing to sacrifice. Be honest with yourself. That way, you may be able to define what exactly you want in your career.
- 27 is a critical age.
It’s an age when it’s ok to be confused and think a lot about future career path. “You are still young,” he said (People love to tell me that, huh?). But this could be a turning point that set you in the right direction, if you make a right move.
When you are 33, it’s going to be difficult to change your path and go back as everyone has had 7 years of experience or so. So, right now, at 27, it is good to sit down and contemplate what you want in life as it could have an impact setting future career from now on.
- Think about how this career is going to help you in the future.
This I have heard many times. You should think about, if/when you quit the company, what can you write in your CV? How much have you learned from this job at this company? But then again, you would know how this job could help you, when you know what you want in your life (Back to number 1 again, huh?)
- You have a good profile. It’s rare in this country.
Again, within the first hour of conversation, he told me that straight away. He said he is quite sure that I have the ability to pick what company I want to work for, and most companies would want someone like me to work for them, because this kind of profile is rare in Thailand. So I have the advantage to really think hard and choose where I want to go.
When I am surrounded by friends and people whose profile are no different from me, or even way better than me (Finance degree from Cambridge, law degree from Oxford, grad school in Sloane MIT, Kellogg, King’s scholarship, Fullbright scholarship, Erasmus scholarship, Chevening UK scholarship, Monbukagakusho scholarship and blah blah blaaaah, you name it, I know those kinds of people), sometimes I forget that it’s rare and I’ve got the advantage, because I hardly see myself that way. Confession is: I’ve never felt I’m good enough! Too many insecurities can make you focus on what you lack, not what you have, and eventually they make you doubt yourself too much.
- You look nice too. Use this as your advantage.
Definitely the kind of advice you wouldn’t hear in business school, eh? He said it’s one of the assets I have, consider it as one of my skills, and how I am going to utilize it. Marketing and HR fields are full of women. Instead, go in the field where there are not many women, for example there aren’t many women in investment banking, management consulting or tech industry, so if you could manage to get in, you would get noticed and this could give you an advantage as many workplaces are looking for male/female balance in workforces. We have studied so much about theories and those things about equality, but in the end you can see that we are just human being, prone to irrationality.
Interesting viewpoint for sure. I’m not gonna say I agree or disagree here, I seriously didn’t interpret this in an offensive way either as I was pretty sure there was no such intention. Simply see this as an opinion. To be honest, the longer I work, the more I see people in society really focus heavily on looks, as it is the first thing people see when they meet someone, so they naturally base their assumptions and impression on that.
Not sure if I missed anything else as we were talking a lot. In the end these kinds of comments feel similar to this 7 questions about life purpose article I just read the other week. I wish I got to have conversations like this more often with many more interesting people. It feels rare, and I truly cherish it.