4 Life Lessons From an Old Personal Development Expert

The Unexpected Uber Ride

Alex Karadzin
Feb 7, 2018 · 3 min read

Most of my uber rides in Kuala Lumpur start with ‘‘where are you from’’ and ‘’How do you like the food?’’ questions.

Today wasn’t one of those days. Mr. Puah was different.

‘‘Hello Alex, it’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Phua. Can you please confirm the address so I can make sure we get there?’’

He got straight to the point, and at the same time, I felt radiating kindness from this old man.

Since we had about 20 minutes before we reached the destination, it was more than enough time to talk about the world, life, success, and the traffic jam in Kuala Lumpur.

I’m presenting you my view of the experience and, for that reason, I will leave Mr. Puah’s words unedited and the way he said them.


1. Learn or die

The first question I could think of was: ‘‘What’s your secret to long and happy life?”

‘‘Age is just a number. Learn or die.”

For the last 9 months, he was an Uber driver. He needed a new challenge and decided to give it a shot.

This man bought a new phone a few days ago and is occasionally struggling with the GPS within the Uber app.

He promised himself he’ll learn how to navigate without problems by Sunday.

Mr. Puah is 72.


2. Shut up and listen

‘‘Listen to understand the problem. To know the real problem, you have to shut up and listen. Every time someone speaks I shut up. If I listen, I learn.’’

How mind-blowingly simple and cliche.

Yet when was the last time you just listened to the other person?

I don’t mean waiting for your turn to speak up, but listening with the intention of understanding.

Life is a different experience when you shift the focus from yourself to people around you.


3. It’s not worth it

Mr. Puah was an advisor for a company and one day decided that he just doesn’t want to be advisor anymore. He left the day after.

‘‘To much stress. It’s not worth it.’’

He woke up one day and decided that enough is enough.

Always keep in mind that your life gets better by change, not by chance.


4. Go out and do! Never make the same mistakes three times

By this point, it’s evident that Mr. Puah is self-development practitioner.

What makes me admire him is the fact that he is a doer.

He doesn’t ponder about lack of clarity or overanalyzes his decisions. He just does it.

If this old man is not afraid to make a life decision at the age of 72, why am I at 28? Why are you?

‘‘Two times learn, third time you are a fool. Mistakes are OK — I don’t want to be a fool.’’

Mr. Puah anticipates mistakes because they lead to breakthrough moments.

Although you’ll never find this quote online, it sums up the balance we need in our journey — and especially the mindset we should develop to get wherever we set our minds and hearts to.

The mindset of learning by doing.


It’s fascinating how much we can learn from those around us, in any moment of any given day.

I believe there are many Mr. Puahs in the world. People just like him who are an epitome of true success. I wish you to stumble upon them like I did.

In case you recognize one, listen and learn.


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Alex Karadzin

Written by

A modern-day teacher and a lifelong learner.