8 Lessons from Chan Chun Sing That Will Wake Up Your Idea


The future is as bleak as it looks, and it’s never more apparent than when I saw NTUC Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing give his speech at the Future Leaders Summit this year.

I attended the conference both this year and last year, and the contrast couldn’t be bigger in SG Chan who spoke at both summits.

Last year, he was hopeful and optimistic. It was about expanding your horizon; the world is your oyster and all you got to do is to grab the exciting opportunities that will come your way.

This year, he asked the audience: Are you anxious? How many of you are anxious? You cannot be telling me none of you felt the pressure? You should be worried.

1. Singapore economy could slide into a recession, are you prepared?

BluePlanetStudio / Shutterstock.com
BluePlanetStudio / Shutterstock.com

On 17 Nov 2016, Straits Times reported that the Singapore economy could slide into a technical recession this year and possibly a full-blown recession in 2017.

We’ve had our biggest slump since 2012 and our economy shrank by 4.1% in the July to September period compared to the previous quarter, and another quarter like this could push us over the edge into technical recession.

It was also reported that Singapore is facing challenges in remaining competitive in the global market due to disruptive changes and geopolitical forces reshaping Asia.


But should we freak out and cover in fear? Or look for opportunities in a bearish market?

2. It’s not the circumstances that define you, it’s how you react that defines you.

Srijaroen / Shutterstock.com
Srijaroen / Shutterstock.com

SG Chan Chun Sing posed this very interesting question to the audience: in 4 years’ time, do you think there will be more accountants or less?

Unsurprisingly, most of the audience (including me) think there’re going to be fewer accountants. After all, the internet is incredibly disruptive and sooner or later, computers will replace human accountants.

But he had a different outlook. He said that they did a survey with accountants and some of them said there’ll be more jobs for them instead.

With platforms like Upwork where companies look to connect with freelancers from all over the world, these accountants are no longer constrained to Singapore for jobs. They are now able to access jobs from all over the world as well.

Things are changing; how it changes depends upon yourself.

3. “What are you good at?” vs “What does the market need?”

Kozlik / Shutterstock.com
Kozlik / Shutterstock.com

It can be awfully tempting to work on things you’re good at. After all, it’ll boost your ego and confidence and they say you should work on your strengths. But is it what you really need?

It’s important to know your strengths, yes, but that’s only part of the equation to success. The second question is what you need to keep yourself relevant in today’s economy.

Sometimes, the reason why people in their 40s who were retrenched couldn’t find a job isn’t because they’re picky, but because their skills are not relevant to today’s working world.

4. Keep Calm

Everyone is worried about the fallout from US Presidential elections and we all know how a decrease in global trade has led to a shrinking Singapore economy, but that’s not what we should be focusing on. Let the folks at the Economic Development Board and the Ministry of Finance deal with that.

What we should be focusing on is how we can improve our prospects, how we can improve our competitiveness and most importantly, how we can stay ahead in the race.

5. Stay Alert

When you work, you tend to get absorbed in the challenges of your workplace. You’ll find that your entire world shrinks to just an office address and challenges come from within.

You’re doing great if you managed to overcome challenges at work. Now look outwards and pay attention to how external factors can affect you and overcome them.

6. Stay Relevant

This is the single most important thing we all must do. Make sure the skills that you have will be needed by your company in the future as well.


Here’s the rule of the thumb: if someone else can do it cheaper, faster and more effective than you, you’ll not have the job for much longer and it’s time to look for alternatives.

7. It’s not about not having time, it’s about not making time

BluePlanetStudio / Shutterstock.com
BluePlanetStudio / Shutterstock.com

Even if we know what to do, we’re likely not to do them because we just don’t have the time, right?

But think about it this way: if you happen to have a hobby, whether it be watching drama or playing some soccer on a Sunday, how did you manage to do it? You’ll make sure your Sundays are untouched so you’ll be able to do them, right?

Here’s the thing, having no time is simply an excuse (for most of us).

It’s about how important we deem the task to be and whether we make time for it. Now ask yourself if having a job in the future is important enough for you to do something about it.

8. NTUC Pledge to Help Working Singaporeans

And everything comes back to the same thing: time. Except that this time, we’re not talking about you making time, but whether courses or training available in Singapore can get you up and running before the skills you learn are obsolete. Again.


NTUC has raised S$200 million dollars to invest in stackable modules that can train Singapore workers just in time. And by in time, we mean fast and efficient training that can equip you with the skills required before the market changes again.

It’s all about the mindset. There may be job losses due to technology but at the same time, new opportunities are created because of the same technology. All you got to do is to make sure that when the time comes, you’re in a good position to take advantage of it.

Feature Image: Chan Chun Sing Facebook Page

This article was first published on goodyfeed.com

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