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“You’ll Never Make it in Life” - Challenging Norms with Timothy Oh

From a working-class family in Singapore, being told he would never make it in life, Timothy Oh defied every expectation, challenging societal norms and carving a path of success. His journey from an uncertain youth to an award-winning marketing expert is a story of resiliency and innovation in the face of adversity.

Today, Timothy is a specialist in business growth and a well-being advocate. He leads a creative agency headquartered in Taipei and Singapore, whilst also serving as Marketing Director for a global gaming software enterprise. Starring in an episode of The Mindset Advantage podcast, which has included Olympic gold medallist Matty Lee and Aaron Mitchell from Netflix, Timothy illustrates the unique pathways individuals can take to achieve excellence in their lives.

Growing Up in Singapore

Timothy's upbringing in Singapore provided him with a unique perspective on success and individuality. He described the experience of navigating through a ‘very structured system’ as ‘incredibly challenging’ for someone who did not fit into predefined societal pathways. “I remember not particularly excelling in the nine subjects I did in school. I felt hopeless,” Timothy recalled, while acknowledging the system Singapore follows is necessary to give young people direction.

A poignant childhood memory served as a catalyst for change. Timothy recounted an incident where he overheard a teacher expressing concerns to his mother: "Your son talks like a choo choo train. His handwriting is bad. If he continues, he is not going to make it in life."

Hearing this was a shock for Timothy, leading him to embrace change and define his own path to success. “It’s like asking a fish to climb a tree. I’m not meant to climb a tree, so I focused on swimming while everyone was climbing, but I was terrified,” said Timothy. This decision marked the beginning of Timothy's journey towards embracing his individuality and setting the foundation for his future achievements.

From Filmmaker to Global Leader

Timothy's transition from a filmmaker to a Managing Director of a creative agency and Growth Director of a global gaming company, showcases the adaptability and diverse skill set needed to achieve career progression. Timothy said: "Being a marketer is about understanding trends. That has always kept me on my toes, seeing how business changes and evolves.”

Recently, Timothy has committed to selecting meaningful projects that make impactful contributions to communities in Singapore. “I'm at a point in life where I need to work towards something that makes a difference, not just to myself, but to the people around me,” said Timothy.

The Role of Change and Growth

Change is a consistent theme in Timothy's life. Drawing inspiration from Gandhi's words, Timothy shared: "Be the change you want to see.” This philosophy guided him through various challenges, making him embrace change as an tool for personal and professional growth. 

“Coming from a very working-class family, I've always felt like I needed to do more. I needed to take care of my family. And I think that that has been a driving force,” said Timothy. His journey to a position of leadership on the global stage highlights his belief in the transformative power of change.

Embracing the Unknown

Timothy's approach to life and career is characterised by a willingness to step out of his comfort zone and embrace the unknown. Timothy shared one of his latest innovative ventures: introducing a line of adult pleasure toys to Singapore. 

“It's very exciting for me, because it's unconventional and can make a difference," said Timothy. He views this as an opportunity to challenge societal norms and taboos, advocating for self-care and love. "This can change perceptions and encourage more open discussions," he explained, underlining the importance of well-being in a society that often places the collective before the individual.

Understanding the challenges and preconceptions surrounding his work, Timothy remains committed to his vision. “I’m aware of the challenges, but if I can make change to the people around me or who use the product, I’ll be happy,” said Timothy, reflecting his goals of positively impacting lives and paving the way for broader societal acceptance.

Being an Empathetic Leader

When it comes to effective leadership, Timothy highlights empathetic communication as paramount. He recommended being brave to seek advice and making notes of inner thoughts for more careful communication. “We need to find a channel that we're comfortable with communicating outward. For me, it started with writing a journal and penning my thoughts, so I could go back and reflect,” said Timothy.

This evolution in communication reflects a deeper understanding of leadership; it's not just about guiding but also about actively listening to others' situations. “You can't give advice to someone when you don’t have the experience. So, it’s better to listen and give positive affirmations where you can,” said Timothy.

One compelling story Timothy shared involves a team member who thanked him for making her a better mother. This moment surprised him due to his lack of experience being a parent, but illuminated the impact of positive reinforcement and recognition.  "When I come into the office, you notice little things like my hairstyle or my new dress. That made me feel good," the employee told him, revealing how affirmations can boost confidence and improve well-being.

The Importance of Vulnerability in Leadership

Timothy also touched on the vulnerability of leaders. "I text my colleagues out of the blue to say that I am thinking about them, knowing that life can be tough," he shared, highlighting the rare but crucial exchanges that humanise the workplace. This practice breaks the facade of invulnerability often associated with leadership and fosters a culture of mutual support within the organisation.

Learning to Embrace Growth

Timothy's reflections offer insights into the broader lessons learned from overcoming obstacles by challenging norms, taking risks, and the potential for kindness in unexpected places. "Things don't necessarily get better, but you will get better," Timothy concluded, encapsulating his philosophy of personal and professional growth.

Arcadia’s The Mindset Advantage podcast with Timothy Oh is now live, available on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and all other streaming platforms.

Connect with Timothy on LinkedIn at

Contact Info:
Name: Timothy Oh
Email: Send Email
Organization: Engage Co.

Release ID: 89123418

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