I visited Singapore last month to meet the incredibly talented team of consultants that make up Hotwire's new exclusive partner in Asia, The Hoffman Agency. Aside from not having left Australian shores for more than a decade, what blew me away was the young Hoffman team's wisdom, seniority and lack of hesitation to challenge.
The following week, I happened upon an article about Singapore's 'kiasu' culture—a survival instinct and aspect of life within the city-state that drives people to try and outdo one another. Taken from the Chinese dialect Hokkien, kiasu translates to a fear of losing out.
Kiasu is often criticised as encompassing competitive, stingy or selfish behaviour. But it got me thinking: if it also encompasses the drive and determination demonstrated by my new partner colleagues, does it deserve such criticism? Or can we in fact learn from it?
Letting opportunity pass is tantamount to failure, the kiasu thinking goes—just like not jumping proactively on opportunities for our clients would make us mediocre consultants. Nothing short of the best is expected—like our clients expect of their agencies.
Former MP, Shiao-yin Kuik, is keen for kiasu to drive positive change—encouraging Singaporeans to be inspired rather than cowered; to be driven by ambition rather than fear.
Similarly, as someone whose strongest personal value is accountability, I urge all advisors to learn from this value of the Singaporean culture. As consultants, it's our job to constantly strive and challenge to achieve the best outcomes. It's not that far a step to adopt the kiasu thinking that if we let opportunity pass, we have no one to blame but ourselves.
It’s in our blood. You realise you have to work harder to be earlier than the next guy.