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Wednesday, February 1, 2023


My dad is a wildly successful business owner with a tech recruitment agency with operations in New York City and San Francisco, and a net worth in the tens of millions.


We live in a bungalow in Bukit Timah. He always told me and my older brother that we should never aim to be corporate slaves because if one were to commit to working hard for anyone, it should only be for ourselves.

I have been told this multiple times for nearly 30 years of my life. He is also of the opinion that people who strive to do very well in school and for their company, will rarely create life-changing wealth, because they are too socialized to doing well for others.

I have done well in school.

I went to the best IP school and I graduated FCH from law school. Near the top of my cohort. I then got a masters from Cambridge, where I was also near the top of my cohort.

Now that I’ve gotten a big four law job, I feel that my life is comfortable, I make good money, my bosses love me, and I feel no incentive to make it on my own. I was even told in passing that if I keep up my work I could make partner one day.


On the other hand, my older brother is a bioengineer, didn’t do that well for A-levels, graduated from the University of Michigan and then UC Davis, quit his pharma job to start an agricultural technology company in California with four of his friends from college that recently fundraised at an 8-figure valuation.

Recently there was even an acquisition attempt that was rejected. Needless to say, my dad has started to overwhelmingly favour him over me. He went to the same IP school as I did he was just very lazy about schoolwork.

I have a weird upbringing in that I used to bring home great grades from school and my dad was never impressed. My brother is a tinkerer and he built a PC at the age of 14 and back then my dad couldn’t stop bragging to relatives about it. At 16 he wrote a password manager on iOS that made a few thousand dollars in its first year and I literally have not seen my dad so proud about anything that I’ve ever done before. Not even when I was in the Humanities Programme and ranked 3rd on a literature block test in my JC cohort of 1000 people.

One thing he has never done is gave me explicit instructions to do anything.

He has always believed in giving us a lot of freedom to try things and to fail. What affects me deeply is his unwillingness to show any regard towards those who are not inclined to challenge conventional life goals. I once overheard a conversation between him and my mom in the bedroom after he showed absolutely no reaction when I ranked first in my sec 2 class.

He told my mom, “all he did was work very hard studying to do well on an exam, what’s so special about that?” That hurt me deeply. He has this deep distaste for what he believes to be a “typical Singaporean philosophy”—do well in school, get a good job, promote, make some money, retire. Which I frankly don’t know where he got it from since he also went to Raffles College, and he also has a degree from Cambridge.


I respect him greatly and I just wish to get some approval from him. I’m just not an enterprising person by nature. I find it odd that someone would look down on people who do well academically and aim to do well at their jobs. If my brother’s startup hadn’t been an immediate success he would have been working for no pay and no reward for 5 years.

The amount of money I saved in the past 3 years alone gets me 80% of the way to making a downpayment on my first apartment. There was no risk involved. If I keep being on this trajectory I’d have more money than I know what to do with anyway. I honestly don’t need anymore than $5 million to retire comfortably.

I don’t hate my brother. I’m incredibly proud of him even though I used to not be able to stand it when his exam was literally 24 hours away and he’d be twiddling his pen in the living room watching anime. It always seemed to me that he was squandering his talent since I know him to be very intelligent.

He learns things ridiculously quickly. Nevertheless I think the world values all sorts of people and I am incredibly happy that he has the creative energy that startup founders often share.

I just don’t understand why my dad values people like him and not people who can really take an instruction and deliver the best work.

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