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Actor, singer, host, and entrepreneur, Gurmit Singh shares his views on passion, work-life balance, and developing a personal brand, in this conversation with Jerene Ang.
Ahead of The Business of Innovation Forum organised by the London Speaker Bureau, Human Resources caught up with actor, singer, host, and entrepreneur Gurmit Singh to seek his views on passion, work-life balance, and developing a personal brand. Here’s what he has to say.
Q The entertainment industry is known to be a tough one, it takes a lot of hard work and passion, perhaps even more so than a traditional career. But you’ve been in the industry for well over 20 years. How did you keep the passion alive for so long? What advice do you have for today’s professionals to ensure they are passionate about their work?
Yes, it is a tough industry in terms of work and man hours put in. An article once indicated that for every 1 minute of air time, at least 30 minutes of work has been put in. And the industry is a fickle one too to be honest. I could be the flavour of the month today, but tomorrow someone else could come and do what i do better and suddenly I will find myself tossed out like a rotten vegetable. This is the reality of the industry and many come into it without that knowledge.
I have to say it was not how I kept the passion alive for so long, more like how the passion kept me alive for so long. You either have passion for something or you don’t – there is no middle ground. Passion is there at the start of your career and will keep you going through all the downs, the challenges, the discouragements and the like, until you are done with the career. If you have to keep your passion alive then that is not passion as far as I am concerned – that is just pride. When you have true passion for something or someone, nothing and nothing at all will stop you let alone keep you down.
Passion is there at the start of your career and will keep you going through all the downs, the challenges, the discouragements and the like, until you are done with the career.
Q You are best known for your role as Phua Chu Kang (PCK) in the 1990s TV sitcom – a larger than life character . Hence, at times people might remember you as PCK rather than as Gurmit Singh. How do you break away from the image of PCK and brand yourself as Gurmit Singh now that you have left Mediacorp and are starting out your own business, while ad-hoc emceeing?
I need to clarify a few things – I was emceeing long before I came to PCK and even when I was doing PCK, I was still emceeing. Granted the PCK persona was larger than life and has given me so much, that I am eternally grateful for the privilege of having found and played a character that has gone on to be a national icon.
Even today, after the TV show has stopped for 10 years, I still get asked if PCK is ever coming, every other day! If that is not a testament to how strong PCK image is, then I don’t know what it is. In fact, just last week I was toying with the idea of bringing him back on TV after all. But these things don’t happen on a whim and fancy of one man, so even if I want him back on, I will have to do some ground work to get this going.
As for breaking away from the image of PCK, it will take time. I always knew that would be something that I would have to be patient with. And I am not frustrated. Actually, I am happy, even proud, that I have done such a good job with him that people can’t forget him so easily. We actors are always looking for a role to call our own and many of us won’t achieve that. So I am always grateful that I have a role to call my own. I will continue to work on other roles for movies, emcee, host TV game shows and so on and may be one day, if I am blessed enough, I will find another role, platform to call my own.
Q Work-life balance is something that most professionals in Singapore struggle with. In an interview with the Asianparent, your wife Melissa had shared that despite your lack of time in the past, you still managed to be there for the children and the family. How did you manage to do so? And what are your tips for those of us struggling to make that balance?
My wife is very gracious and gives me too much credit. Yes, I tried my best to be there for the family but it was not always the case and it was a huge challenge. Being recognised as a talent for my work (acting, singing, hosting) is a humbling experience but it also means that there are times when I am doing so many projects back to back that there is no more time for the family.
In fact, at one particular time, I was involved in five, yes five, different projects at the same time! I was eventually called into management office because someone up there had caught one of my shows and wanted to meet me and find out why I looked so tired. When I revealed I was in five projects, management stepped in to cut down my work load and give me some respite. But even after that, I was always in a project as soon as one was done. And you have to bear in mind that projects didn’t include photography shoots, press conferences, appearances, interviews on radio and TV, fittings, imagings, script readings, and the list goes on.
Do the best you can, your family will know and appreciate it but also take a good look at what you are doing work-wise and see if there are some aspects you do not need to do.
That is why after over 20 years in the industry I decided to take things slower and be in control of my own time, my own life. I went freelance. The money is no good, but I have lots of time to catch up with my family now.
My advice to those struggling to make work-life balance – do the best you can, your family will know and appreciate it but also take a good look at what you are doing work-wise and see if there are some aspects you do not need to do. Just my two cents.
One of the most well known faces in the region, Gurmit Singh will share his story on how passion, patience and perseverance are the key ingredients in ensuring success in one’s personal life and career at The Business of Innovation Forum.
Held on 12 October 2017 at the Stamford Ballroom, Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore, The Business of Innovation Forum is organised by the London Speaker Bureau, with Human Resources as a media partner.
The forum brings together ‘recognised innovators’ from across the globe, including Gurmit Singh, May Schooling, Zev Siegl, and more, to discuss the future of innovation and what it takes to succeed today and in the coming years.
Over the past 5 years, The Business of Innovation has been committed to helping business leaders lead more effectively in the turbulent and ever-changing world. The event is one of the most powerful conferences available for leaders, and each year features a world-class lineup of speakers discussing the key trends in the business today.
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