Last Tuesday, Razer CEO and co-founder Min-Liang Tan delivered a 13-minute speech at the Singapore Management University (SMU) Commencement opening ceremony, imparting some words of wisdom to the graduating class of 2019.
Framed around the topic of “the three people you’ll meet in life”, Tan’s speech covered a variety of topics, including doing what you love, surrounding yourself with the right people, and giving back to the community.
We might not be graduating SMU students, but we listened to the whole thing anyway, and here are the biggest takeaways we got:
Family Comes First
Tan started his speech by highlighting the importance of family, saying how his father taught him the values of hard work, attention to detail and responsibility, while his mother taught him how “you needed to just go get what you wanted out of life.”
He also talked about how his mother’s advice — “You can do whatever you want, just go do it.” — spurred him to quit his job at a law firm and start Razer with just $4,000 in savings. (fun fact: Tan “conveniently forgot” to tell his parents that he had quit his job as a lawyer.)
“The thing I’ve learned about family is that what they say to you, is what they think is the best for you.” he said. “But what is unsaid is that no matter what you do, whether you take their advice or otherwise, your family will ultimately support you with any decision that you make.”
“Always appreciate that every single minute, every single day.”
Do What You Love, Love What You Do
In what is personally our favourite segment of his speech, Tan urged the audience to find and pursue something that they’re passionate about, whether it’s academically-related or not.
“Today is day one for the rest of your life. You have got to discover for yourself what you love to do, and it’s not necessarily what you may have spent your entire life studying or working toward.”
Acknowledging that your professional life forms a significant part of one’s adult’s life, he also stressed the importance of surrounding yourself with like-minded people — people that you want to grow with, learn from, and be successful with.
“I can’t emphasise how important this is – especially for your first job — that it isn’t the salary that you’re going to get, or the title that you will have. But it’s the people that you work with, work for, and the culture that you’ll be working in.”
Tan then name dropped two individuals who play a significant role in his life — seed Investor Lim Kaling and Razer COO Khaw Kheng Joo — to demonstrate how the people that you will meet at work will dictate if you’ll be successful or not.
If you don’t truly love the work that you do, move on and don’t stop looking until you find what you’re truly passionate about.
Take and Give
In the third and final part of his speech, Tan said that if you’re in a fortunate position to be able to give back, it is your the moral and ethical duty to do so, whether it’s to the community, country or even the world.
“The very fact that you are here today, graduating from one of the finest institutions in the world means that many have come around you to make this happen. And whether you know it or not today, you owe a debt to them.”
Tan noted, however, that you should not give back for the recognition, saying it’s more likely that you’ll be criticised by naysayers instead. He used RazerPay as an example — how many questioned what business a gaming peripheral company had in building a cashless economy — and how the company rose above the criticism to build one of the biggest e-payment platforms in the region.
Tan added that it doesn’t matter if your efforts succeed or fail, because it’s more about doing the right thing when you have the opportunity to do so.
“What is important is that you tried to make a difference for the people that you seek to give back to. And some of that effort will make a difference to them, no matter how large or small.” he said.
“So step up, give back and make a difference to the people around you, to your country, to the world. Not for what others think, but for your responsibility to do so.”
If you want to be inspired by the man himself, here’s Tan’s speech in full:
Header Image Credit: Singapore Management University