When Tan Chuan-Jin, in his closing address during the Committee of Supply Debate 2020, said that he “had the pleasure of enduring all (the) speeches”, as they were necessary for the sake of the future, it struck a chord. And it resonated.
I’m no Speaker of Parliament, but I too had the pleasure of enduring countless meetings leading up to the inaugural launch of our Thought Leaders community last year. Those meetings were somewhat painful to sit through as we hammered our way through various details, but they were very much essential to establish the foundations of the community and the future thereof.
When we first discussed the Thought Leaders initiative in late 2018, we were adamant that it wouldn’t be a list that read like a one-time celebration of achievements. It had to be a community and one that grew each year. It didn’t matter how many members we ended up with (for the curious, we had 27).
What counted and what mattered was that each individual was outstanding in his or her field, regardless of the industry in which they made their names.
Then it came down to decisions on who should be included and why? This had me feeling like a contestant in a reality TV show – not so much The Bachelorette, but more Shark’s Tank – as we each had to pitch our nominations.
Candidates had to possess the qualities and the values that our magazine stood for, upheld and reflected. Among the numerous adjectives that were thrown around were also common denominators – they were all risk-takers who looked beyond the horizon.
Our goal was not simply to have them add value and meaning to the work that we do, but to engage the wider community with sharp, honest insights.
Following our vision of a community that’s a constant work in progress, we engaged our Thought Leaders through events, content and idea generation. Some helped finesse it, while others nudged us in a direction that we didn’t realise was feasible or even possible.
Those who have attended our events know that our Thought Leaders sometimes play devil’s advocates when debating topics that aren’t necessarily easy to navigate. But conversations with industry leaders are essential in setting off a domino effect.
With unconventional thoughts come meaningful content, and with that, the engagement of readers who are inspired to take steps forward.
What’s new in 2020’s community, you ask? We’re still shining the spotlight on leaders in a variety of industries – education, design, real estate, technology and yachting, to name but a few – and each of this year’s 29 honourees are armed with fascinating stories to tell.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s to come. An entrepreneur might tell you that one success is worth 10 previous failures. An alcoholic might aver that the highs are well worth the attendant hangovers and lows.
Looking back, putting this project together has been nothing short of enlightening as well as fruitful and rewarding to boot.
If you’d like to chime in with a recommendation or two for next year’s community, my email is in the masthead. With some good fortune – and
mis well-placed trust from the management – we’ll be back with an even larger group in 2021 and my words may even grace the issue once again.