Capital Reflections

2021 was hectic. How hectic? About an hour ago, I was still drafting Very Clear Cut’s special newsletter. I finished the last gathering for 2021 in the evening. And… to top it all up, half my January calendar is full of meet-ups I could not fit in 2021. I should not repeat this next year.

It dawned on me after my 30th birthday that time is money. It is perhaps a cursory interpretation of the “time is money” mantra that leads people to hustle without break, undertake 996 even though they may detest it deep within or try to cram their schedule with appointments of all sorts. But that is not quite the right way to view it.

As we move through our phases of life, we require capital to tap on. Once again, a cursory interpretation of “capital” might lead one to think of earning as much money as possible, doing sidelines or for a select few, working to the point of exhaustion just for an extra dollar. That is also not quite the right way to view it.

I have learnt quite a lot this year, but one simple point I thought was worth putting on record is the concept of social capital. One of my resolutions in 2021 was to try to bridge across various friend groups in the hope of unlocking synergies. Sounds corporate-speak but here is a simple example: it is quite clear that each of us, given our limited cognitive powers, will not be a master of every topic. But through tapping onto a network of friends, we can extend our capabilities, be it in understanding more about the world around us through expert advice/opinion, or reach, through allowing our friends to tap onto the minds of others.

To some extent, Very Clear Cut somehow became a reflection of 2021. Initially, this was started with the idea of education in mind, but it quickly grew on us that the true potential, for us founders, was not so much in the videos themselves, but the networks we could tap on. They do not necessarily lead to monetary gain, but the breadth of perspective helps us build the all-important helicopter vision that is a trait behind any big-picture job (think C-suite). I was personally humbled at how little I know, while doing research on topics we felt were pertinent among young people, and learn so much, especially in the second half of the year where we were inviting guests on a consistent basis to share their worlds with us.

With social capital, one can reinterpret “time is money”. Rather than to look at the phrase linearly, i.e. to try to do more with less, we can adopt a non-linear approach, i.e. re-imagine how we will spend time, how we can tap on one another’s time to produce far better outcomes than what we do merely as individuals. For instance, the seemingly time-wasting activity of catching up with friends may in fact unlock ideas we would never have thought of ourselves, which could then be applied in some other area of interest we have been searching for a solution in vain. This is what makes us, as humans, capable of creation and creativity.

2022 will likely continue to be a washout as the world figures out how to live with COVID-19. Mentally, we already know this is endemic. But the amount of time spent at home rediscovering ourselves could become worth it after all. Let us also rediscover the networks we had, since young, and look for more untapped potential to continue growing in 2022.

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