My 10 Commandments of Life — #NoOneGivesASh*t

I’m a 19 year-old finishing up my last 4 months (maybe 5) of my diploma education. While many of my friends are out having ‘the time of their life’, it looks like I’m burying myself in “work”. Other than the fact that I run my own commercial photography business, I came up with an idea a month ago to produce a short documentary film.

I have never been this busy throughout my entire life. Hours of emails, pitching ideas to clients, working on collaborations and having to do pre-production for my documentary. On top of that, I’m working on my final-year research project.

“Why work so hard? Just relax now and do the hard work after graduating.” I’m so used to hearing that. Some friends asked me why am I hustling so much? After answering so many of them, I decided to share my 10 Commandments of Life.

1. Never give excuses

I used to love excuses. Didn’t do homework? I misplaced it. Didn’t want to exercise? I injured my leg. Didn’t want to work hard? I’m tired. What have all these excuses done for me? Nothing, except making me fat and lazy.

One fine day I was so done with it. I didn’t want to whine anymore. No more excuses. Tired? Deal with it.

2. Finish what you start

This is kind of a follow up from the first commandment. It’s easy to give an excuse and abandon the all work. All it did was made my inner reptile believe it is totally okay to give up in times of adversity. When I started being more serious in my business, I chanced upon Tom Sachs and Van Neistat, who gave a brilliant advice on filmmaking: always finish the movie.

Giving up is never okay.

3. Be brave, never play safe

No one wins an Oscar by being mediocre and I don’t want to be mediocre. The idea of playing safe and having many backup plans is one that many Singaporeans are familiar with. The advice of having a degree if you want to start your own business just in case it fails.

But what’s the point? With that 4 years and $25,000, you could have gone far. If you want to cross that bridge, burn all the other bridges so you have absolutely no options but to overcome everything to cross THAT bridge.

4. Say ‘yes’ to opportunities

I started out as an events and concert photographer. Money was cr*p. Imagine people offering you $50 for a 2-hour event. Never did I plan on going into commercial work but silly me crazily said “YES!” to a couple of gigs and here I am.

You will never know what an opportunity will bring you until you go head first into it.

5. The only “right” time is now


“Why work so hard? Just relax now and do the hard work after graduating.”

Remember that? Sure, I could wait 5 more months until I graduate and maybe another 2 years after I complete my National Service before I start the business, but what am I going to do in the 2.5 years? Sit around and be fat & lazy? NO! School and NS are not an excuse! Refer to the first commandment.

6. Do it right or don’t do it at all

Ever had said to yourself “it’s alright, that’s good enough, no one will notice the flaws.”. Trust me, I’ve done it more than anyone. That’s the result of studying a subject you have no interest in.

The action of saying “no one will notice the flaws” will again instil the inner reptile to be fine with flaws. When I hit the ‘good enough’ level, I always ask “Is it perfect?”. 99% of the time, I’m back fixing it.

7. Know the end before you start

Or should I say don’t run around like a headless chicken, you will just die tired. Know the goals and objectives, and get to them. It’s the same in life, photography or filmmaking, visualise the finished product.

8. To live a fulfilling life is to be useful

Contrary to popular beliefs, living a fulfilling life does not exactly involve drinking till you drop or having loads of money. The feeling of creating or making a difference is much more fulfilling.

This is the reason why I can work almost all day and keep going despite the agony of little sleep. Because every single action I do, I feel rewarded.

9. Don’t bullish*t, people can smell it from far

This is a major commandment for me when I’m working with my clients. Clients love to play it safe by doing conventional advertising or simply use stock images. Many don’t realise that the new generation of content viewers aren’t even bothered about advertisement of the milk powder with DHA, ARA, GHP, DDC and GPP (I made most of them up). What happens when the ads comes up on TV, everyone picks up their phone.

Don’t bullish*t. If there’s no emotional connection, no one cares.

10. The world doesn’t give a sh*t, no one does

I learnt it hard when I uploaded my first Youtube videos (I deleted it after realising how awful it was). In 6 months, it got 50 views. I was waiting for it to go viral. But hey, no one gives a sh*t.

No one will watch your video if it doesn’t concern them. No one will pay you money because you need a new camera. No one is going to send you on a multi-destination all-expenses-paid holiday if you are a nobody.

Put your heads down and work your ass off because the only person that gives a sh*t about you is yourself.