Thursday 15 March 2007

Lifestyle of the smart and stupid not so smart

It has been 2 days since the media flood the nation with news of the next generation of geniuses. They face the future with high hope, of course, we all know most of them will have their hope crushed soon enough; after all, reality is cruel, but that's another point altogther. To be fair to them, besides being kiasu and wanted to prove a point, I do believe that all most of them believe that results guarantee a bright future. Again, most of us know that is not true.

Friends, allow me to share a few stories real life experience with you (all names have been changed to protect the relevant person’s identity):

Smart people story 1: The high flyer new staff

Mary joined Zewt’s firm and was assigned to Zewt’s unit. She came with great credentials, apparently, a top scorer in SPM (number of As “berbelas-belasan”) and a 1st class degree graduate from a local public university. Impressive, no?

1 week into her employment, Zewt gave an assignment to Mary, a very simple calculation that require her to extract figures from the profit and loss account (“P&L”) and transfer the extracted figures into another statement. Yeah, kinda like data entry job. By the way, for all those soon-to-be graduates, just because you hold a degree, don’t expect to do some high level work once you start working, you’ll probably be doing some donkey jobs first.

After explaining on what needed to be done to Mary, she went back to her place. Half an hour later, Mary came to Zewt and told Zewt that she can’t reconcile the P&L, that she can't locate certain figures. I asked her to pass me the source document and Zewt proceed to try to locate then numbers. It was not found on the 1st page of the documents and naturally, Zewt turned to 2nd page and voila… Zewt found the figure and pointed the figure to Mary.

Mary’s reply (in the most innocent manner ever) was… ……”oh… got page 2 wan ah?”

Mary carried the nick… “Miss Page 2” since that day.

Smart people story 2: The CEO wannabe

Jane was the top student that shared the same faculty as Zewt. She graduated with (again) a 1st class degree. Jane told Zewt…”I wanna be a CEO one day”.

After returning from London (yes, degree from an Ang Moh country, don’t pray-pray), Jane joined Zewt’s competitor firm. Approximately 1 year later, Zewt found out that Jane has joined Zewt in the same firm. Reason being… she couldn’t take the pressure in her previous firm, translate: Jane failed to perform in her previous firm and is now trying her luck in the same firm as Zewt.

A few months passed and she told Zewt… “Working life is so tough, I just wanna find a rich man and marry him and stay home and be a tai-tai”. (tai-tai = rich housewife) What happened to CEO? Oh… she didn’t deviate much, tai-tai… CEO of the house… same la.

Last Zewt heard, Jane set off to do what she does best… study… for her Masters.

Stupid Not so smart people story 1: 2nd class (lower division)

“Must go to a reputable university, otherwise find a job” Eric told Zewt. Eric went to the UK one year ahead of Zewt, and it was indeed, a very prestigious university.

As the results rolled out, Eric only managed to obtain a 2nd class (lower division) honours. Yeah la, from an and-moh high class uni, but 2nd class (LOWER division) woh… die, habis, mati, hancur… It was the end of the world for Eric.

Eric struggled to find a job and finally settled for an executive position in a chap-pa-lang (low class) company and was the lowest paid amongst his peers. Zewt started his working life with a slightly higher pay. Eric didn’t enjoy his work and resigned soon after. He went on to do sales.

Now, Eric drives a brand new Honda Accord (heard he bought it with cash?). Eric owns one two three properties and is looking and buying one in Australia in a few years time. Eric’s company… I repeat… Eric’s company, owns a shoplot, a warehouse, and a 3 story building in a prime location.

And the best part… while you and I wake up early in the morning, put on our tie, report to work, work overtime to get out puny salary… Eric sleeps till 10+, probably go to lunch first before going into office. He plays mah jong with his friends in the office, go for a tea and then drives around in his brand new Honda Accord looking for people to play mah jong.

Stupid Not so smart people story 2: The SPM failure

Sam was Zewt’s school mate, but not class mate. Why? Cos Zewt was in the top class (clap a bit la) while Sam was at the … not so top class. Sam is the those fellas… ya’ know… skip class, distribute porn in school, never study and sure enough… Sam flunk is SPM. Flunk his S…P…M ya’ know! Tell that to those kids who scored ‘only’ 18 As… they might faint as the sound of such statement.

Zewt seldom meet up with Sam, the only time they will see each other are those festive gatherings. When Zewt was still driving a proton, Sam was already driving a Nissan Cefiro. The last time Zewt heard, Sam was working managing running a wood factory.

Sam told Zewt…”I am just a lorry driver”… well, let’s just say Zewt don’t really wanna spoil your day anymore with Sam’s story

Indeed, the above are just a few stories… perhaps you may even call them the exceptional cases… or is it?

I am pretty sure many of us have heard the phrase “A degree is just a ticket to the working world”. We all know it and agree to it. However, how much do we understand that phrase? We probably fail to comprehend the true meaning of “a ticket”, or probably fail to grasp the true meaning of “the working world”.

The truth is, a 3rd class or general tickets doesn’t mean you will be not able to board the “plane of life”, while 1st class tickets doesn’t guarantee 1st class seats. You might miss out on your preferred “airlines” but never fret, how high your plane of life can fly and whether it will reach your destination, is often entirely up to you. What about those kids who scored 17As, 18As and 19As? Well… I dunno, you tell me.

So, is your “seat” right now reflective of the ticket you’re carrying?


zewt said...

Oh... I missed out... Page 2 girl got a full scholarship to do her MBA in Scotland....

Somebody.. please kill me.

rainbow angeles said...

*brings a shotgun*


*looks at own ticket*
*looks at own "seat"*
Looks like quite the right seat, I suppose... ;)

Ei, go be a journalist already! LOL!

sereneannabelle said...


great story you have there. i guess some people are just cut out for school more than working life...these ppl are just booksmart.

i hope i'm the not-so-smart but successful kind of person next time. heh.

Eli James said...

My seat is plastic, i'm facing a computer screen, and my ticket is 8As.

I think i'll focus on the fact that i got my driving license this morning. Wee! Can become lorry driver liaw!


PS: Sorry if this comment isn't as long nor as well thought out as the last one. My brain is close to crashing. =)

Rabbit said...

totally agree with you. I have a not-so-smart brother who thinks he is soo smart. Heh!

*stabs zewt and runs away*

:: Nicole.F :: said...

who is better? street smart ppl or book smart ppl? hmmmm...

anyway, my hubby and me aren't the SPM top scorers.. we both didn't get featured in newspaper *being sarcastic* both of us however have grade 1 for our SPM.. we both doesn't have a degree..

my hubby just worked his way up and now he's 26.. we're living a comfortable life now.. all i could say is i'm SO proud of him.. all his hard work last time did not go wasted..

as for me, obviously i got married to him so all i need to do now is to be his wife! lol..

ps: ppl nowadays have to work smart.. what u study during high school, doesn't come very handy in the working world

Anonymous said...

It is always easy to say that you don't need a university degree to succeed in life. You can probably quote many more successful stories of such people. However, bearing in mind, a university degree is not just about getting the paper, it is about obtaining an education. It is about learning transferable skills and building the mental capability to face the world. Morever, I think most importantly, going to university allows you network and meet people who will play important roles in your life either personally or professionally. I have enjoyed my university education and would not exchange it for anything in this world. Having said that, I don't drive any luxurious car yet ; )

Anonymous said...

Thanks for visiting my blog.I came over and want to read some more.but i am so sleepy already. I will link you so it will be easy to come over and read more often.

Anonymous said...

Zewt... As a struggling student... i want to thank you a million times for that post. 4 months from graduation, and the top grades are out of my reach. Those real world experiences manage to make me smile at a time when the future looks bleak.

hahahaha... both my parents are graduates... and u know what they call their certificates? Oh See Chee. Yep, toilet paper. It is good to bring with you into the toilet (ie the working world), but once you enter, it is no more use than loo roll... use to wipe shit.. their own or other people... have to ask them lar..

And Miss anonymous.. Zewt not criticising a uni education lar... just providing real world anecdotes... Loosen up and laugh a bit along with us lar

Anonymous said...

To some people degrees maybe be toilet paper, I beg to differ. University degree is all about branding as well as alumni networks. Many people have strong affiliation with the school that they graduated from, even many years later.

Of course I do agree with Zewt that university degree alone doesnt guarantee a smooth ride in climbing the corporate ladder or life. One thing for sure, it does give you a big boost and a head start. In a competitive working world that we live in, often times these "small" differences do set you apart from the others.

Anonymous said...

Its about the lesson, not the opinion. If they really thought of their degrees as nothing more than toilet paper, I won't be here getting a degree and making plans to get some permanent head damage sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Universities ARE very much about branding. And alumni networks? Big boosts and head starts? That brings us back to the 'opening door' function of the degree. Its the essence of tertiary education. None of us are saying we don't need a degree. We're not discrediting education, its an important part of our lives...

We are just saying 18'As isn't as big a deal as everyone makes it out to be. Chill lar friend.

flaminglambo said...

I'd have to agree that there are some numbnuts around that are great academically but lacks common sense. However, a lot of these rookies/newbies/young recruits are just nervous and unsure of how things work in the organisation. With guidance and a little patience, a lot of them do show their qualities.

Seaqueen said...

With all the As in the world, irregardless from SPM or from your degree or even PhD, (if they do still give As there, cos I don't take it), is that gonna help in the working world or how does it help an individual become a better person or have a better attitude

Whether it's As or Fs your life, is in God's and your own hands. How you make of it is your own doing. Dun you think so Zewt?

Weig said...

Smart People Story 1: The high flyer new staff
Have you noticed the declining standards and/ or leniency of pre-university markers lately (Read the past week's newspapers for reference). Also, our so called top public university is not what it used to be (the following link refers - no alliance to blogger implied -

Smart people story 2: The CEO wannabe
McKinsey pay for Masters degree holder = $35,000 per month
(Her story ain't done yet)

Not so smart people story 1: 2nd class (lower division)
He got into a very prestigious university, got a ticket from there. So, ticket = seat.

Not so smart people story 2: The SPM failure
Well, he wasn't given the original ticket, but given Sam's enterprising nature (seen in his ability to maneuver school authorities by skipping class and establishing a porn distribution chain, I gather someone should have seen a budding businessman in that boy.

My ticket was foreign, my seat is local (and it creaks). For that, I blame John Howard for not invading Malaysia and introducing the dole.

Anonymous said...

zewt-good point but here's my 2 cents worth

In skool, its all bout the A's coz thats how the school and to certain extent parents expect us to get....We have not worked a day in our life so we dunno what is out there....

In uni, this culture still has not totally left cant right if it is ingrained since Standard 1 hahaha.....

In working life then it will hit you....1st class degree holders GENERALLY will excel in working environment..Of course not to say getting a degree lower than that will end your world...

Some wise man once told me...A DEGREE IS JUST AN OPENING...what you achieve after that is up to you..i believe this statement sums up your story...the degree will open the door but which door you choose and what you do behind the door will determine your route ahead...

Reasons to explain y ppl without formal education can succeed:

a) They normally strike out on their own as to work for large companies require a degree. So in most cases if they are successful they will be SHAREHOLDERS where profits are unlimited....Degree holders are MERELY employees though u might be highly paid but SALARIES/BONUSES are limited

b) They have courage unlike degree holders who have their own VISION of an ideal job.

c)Last but not least, this is going to be a controversial point.
I believe their ability to succeed is borne from the fact that they have nothing to lose. Any person with nothin to lose and back against the wall will DEFINITELY come out fighting....As such will take drastic actions to survive....

But then next ques will be...the old grandma ques...HOW DO WE DETERMINE SUCCESS IN LIFE?

Trader Max said...

Ahh, so true, not controversial at all, at least not to me.
"When a beast is cornered, it will fight to the death. Whats more of armed soldiers when faced with no escape?"
Lord Fu-chai
quoted from Sun Tzu Art of War

Purple~MushRooM said...

As me and Zewt and many others know, we are not trying to diss any high scorers. Me, personally, I am a high scorer too. Almost straight As, an MBA within 2 yrs and ACCA in 1.5 years (wuiyoh... never fail any papers in ACCA u know... don't pray pray!)

Bottom line:
Scoring so many As in study doesn't guarantee a bright future.
Scoring lowly in study also doesn't mean a bleak future ahead.
It all depends on ourselves, I mean ourselves (not out scores in exams) when we really stepped out into the working world.
The paper... is just stepping stone for most of us to get into better companies to start off our career. Once that happens, again... it depends on US... OURSELVES!

Eli James said...

Say, steve jobs says something similar to that, purple mushroom. Lemme go cari the link first.

I used that as a reference for one of my aural presentations, for the SPM >.<"

Still, it's a great thing to read.

me said...

hahaha. will love to meet the 'miss page 2' girl someday. such brilliance. how did she get good marks if she never learnt to turn the page? don't knock it. such blur ppl are often happy ppl. :-D

ohhhhh. eric. eric sells illegal dvds mah, u don't know meh? zewt is in the wrong field. perhaps zewt shld learn to fiddle with the books (i mean a little more than the usual tax 'planning' :-p) if zewt wants to drive brand new honda accord and play mahjong all day. don't say i gave u that advise though. *grins*

and sam...i know sam. he drives wood..among other things in his lorry. kakaka.

if zewt was so successful like his friends, he wouldn't have time to blog. then what would we do for entertainment? no zewtablog to stalk! :-p

Anonymous said...


Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal.

So the definition of success in life depend on the individual's goals. And goals change over time. Which means the definition success change over time too. There are short term goals, and long term goals. Small successes and big successes. What is success in life? Probably what's left after you take out the disappointments.

flaminglambo said...

theodywn - 'Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal.'

Damn, that's deep. Blew me away.

H.C. Tan said...

im not booksmart and not streetsmart either. can go find rich husband d.haha

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

Goes on to show why firms firstly choose overseas grad over local grad..and even still..the good ones are like a needle in the bush..kudos of course to those who doesnt need a "ticket" to make their money..i mean after all Bill Gates was a dropout wasnt he?

baggie said...

bwahahaha.... say your prayers zewt.. "bang!!" u know ure dead.. *grins*

zewt said...

angel - journalist? i think i would rather be a columnist. but i am starting with blogonist first haha.

goodshithappens - hello, welcome to As Zewt As It Gets. dont we all wanna be successful without being too smart... well, good shit does happen...sometimes.

rabbit - Zewt went dead and his soul goes after rabbit.

dienasty/theodwyn/economist/flaminglambo/anonymous - Wow, you guys have a great conversation going on here huh...

To me, that degree that one holds does give one an edge over another. Well... in what situation if you may ask... I would say... to secure an interview, that's all. Securing the job will depends on your grades, but more importantly, how you well you carry and sell yourself in the interview. By the time one set his/her foot into the working world, it's all about true ability and competence. You can't tell your boss to give you good bonus or increment by showing him your grades. He will probably say 'fuck off'.

what is success then? Well, success means different things to a lot of people. I have friends who define money as success, some... free time, some... family. To me... success is when you don't have to slog yourself till the wee hours of the night just to pay your bills. Yes, money is involved. Success is when you can have time to do things that you 'enjoy' in life.

That's what I can think of for now, but i am sure there's more. But i am sure it's not work.

bengbeng - hello, thanks for visiting.

Jessica - indeed, we are the one who writes our own destiny. Of cos, there will be a school of thoughts that say… getting good grades is like writing out destiny… or is it not?

zewt said...

cirnelle - yeah, public university can be worse than polytechnics of Sg. As for CEO wannabe, do you think someone who cant survive in our kinda firm can survive in Mckensey?

Not so smart number 1: hmmm… you have got a good point. Not so smart number 2: again, I shall try to instill such business mind into your children. You wanna write a petition to john howard?

maxforce - wah… you agree with me? Wooooah. So, have you been cornered yet?

purple mushroom - woooah… really don’t pway pway woh… we have a top top top student in our midst! Read my reply to dienasty/theodwyn/economist/flaminglambo/anonymous.

me - hahaha… ms page 2 is currently happily studying for her fully sponsored masters in Scotland. I assume she will emerge top again, provided she knows how to flip her page of her books.

No, eric’s company is one of the top distributor of machinery parts in msia while sam… ok lah, I dunno what he carries in his lorries besides wood. But heck… that’s not the point. And you’re wrong… if I am them, I will probably have much more time to blog… 2 – 3 entries a day perhaps? So better pray that I be successful soon.

h c tan - you wanna do an anna Nicole smith eh? Just make sure you don’t die after that ok?

someone who is constantly craving - yeah, he is. But I don’t think we have many bill gates around. But then again, I don’t need to that successful… just 1% of him will do.

calvin’s girl - why ah? Why am I dead ah?

Eileen said...

My personal opinion: To climb the corporate ladder, just know how to mingle/polish shoes with the high management, HR and finance ppl. Studies is merely a learning curve and the office world/politics is nothing compared to the book.

I think students should enjoy studying life before they step foot into the cruel, realistic, backstabbing corporate world.

Good grades give u a higher priority to enter a good company. That's a fact. Next stop, good experience give u a higher chances to get a better job. At different stages of life, every little thing matters.

Anonymous said...

one tablespoon of booksmart + one tablespoon of streetsmart = SUCCESS

Anonymous said...

flaming lambo,
thanks for the compliment, credit goes to my dad, not to me. Its one of the many saying he drill into my head since I was a kid.

Huei said...

eH!! i oso 2nd lower class!!! do i get to wake up at 10-11am to go work?? or possibly not go work at all?? all i wan is a rx8, a bungalow, and a stable income to feed my pets.

thats all thats all!!!!


Dangerous Variable said...

I m stupid... no $$$$ also. Sigh

Cherry Popcorn said...

should i fail my university degree too?

Sigh.. I don't like the working life. Later give people like zewt bully me! =(

Kenny Mah said...

Me, don't even have a ticket! :P

Seriously though, I'm still wondering how those kids find time to study for 19 subjects much less score As for them...

Maybe they use a time-turner like in Harry Potter? ;)

zewt said...

princess eileen - damn right... it's all about looking good in front of your boss... specially in commercial world. different stages of life... different expectations.

deborah - so easy eh?

theodwyn - i wish i have a dad who is like that. i am always left on my own.

huei - rx8 only mah... of cos can. resign from your job and do something radical... got the guts?

dangerous variable - hahahahaha.... dont fret... it may be your day yet.

princess shin - not tellin you to fail... but telling that IF you fail... it's not the end of everything. and hey... who said i am a bully?

zewt said...

Kenny Mah - no ticket? you cant be serious right? haha... or maybe things are just not what they seem to be... check out the last comment in my previous entry... some enlightenment there by a former school teacher.

Anonymous said...

Let's put it this way, the As student will be looking into a future with degrees and working for others
The non As will come out selling dvds and suddenly think of something good and make money from it
And the riches people around fall in the second category

Trader Max said...

Cornered till my back is facing the cliff. Now is the time to fight back!

King's wife said...

An 'all round' education...thats' what I hope for my kids. As long as they maintain good results, develop a good character and personality to match. It's definitely not just about getting A's.

*looks at own ticket*...sudah expired! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Hi Zewt
First time dropping a line here. Must say your blog is very pleasing to the eyes (gimlet if I may say so) and stimulating for the mind (not closed, needless to say). Really impressed with your acute (and cute) observations. said...

Wah Zewt, so many posts since I last viewed. Good lah ur opinions in life, very interesting & hot debatable topics. Keep up the good work!

zewt said...

zeroimpact - precisely... that's actually a point i wanted to write. i read it somewhere. a high flyer will graduate and his destiny is .... be an employee, a labour... the failures... no one wanna hire him... be boss lor.

Maxforce - fight in which battlefield? KLSE eh? hahahahahahahaha

king's wife - best wishes to your kids. if you ask me... make sure education is balanced... on and off the classroom... life is not just about knowledge... but wisdom.

get a new ticket! haha

a malaysian in riyadh - hello there... welcome welcome! how is life in riyadh! thanks for your compliment. Very encouraging to see strangers like you dropping by... hope to see you here again!

Russ - how is life back in the states? your wife is whinning everyday here haha! thanks for your compliment. while reading my blog... perhaps you can also update yours! cheers.

Trader Max said...

You got that right. The battle has just begun. Make sure you pick the right side :P

kyh said...

LOL! theory and practical are 2 different things. good in theory doesnt mean you'll succeed in practical works either.

i've read from a forum calling SPM as "Siapa Paling Maksimum" and STPM as "Siapa Ter-Paling Maksimum". LOL!!!

btw, wat is ur profession? seems like a boss wor... KKK!!!

:: Nicole.F :: said...

whinning? grrrrrrrr... he already updated his blog :p~

Wickedsa said...

holding a degree doesnt mean you're a great worker.
there more things to be concern.
not much comment on this as I din graduate yet~~hehe

*cosmic freak* said...

hurm. I realised I am a good student, after I graduated with 2nd class lower.

note, I AM a good student. student of life. cos I basically am stupid in school, uni.

but I see around when I studied (did I actually study?), everyone was busy memorising textbook to pass. so, what the hell.

I was at that time busy being a foolosopher. a foolish philosopher berangan nak tunjuk pandai.

well, I end up having a decent job with decent amount of bills to be paid monthly. okayla kot.

at least I'm happy.

LanunDarat said...

huaaaaaa...2nd class lower not so smart kaa....dammit..i think one important element apart of hardwork is luck..u need the damn lady to always smile at u maaa..if luck is on ur side..pass srp pun boleh kaya maaa..

TCA Student Council said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TCA Student Council said...

Hahaha... Miss Page 2 is a classic...

The so-called not so smart ones get the last laugh huh..?

But someone define 'smart' pls... even IQ tests aren't accurate measurements in telling your IQ.

i risk the beating of the readers... i didn't read through every single comment but i know a lot of u r degree holders of some discipline..

But we see well-educated ppl sometimes behaving in ways that would put us to shame & the silliest qns asked. Is that being smart then?

I am not making a sweeping statement as there are well-educated & properly behaved ppl, but it never failed to baffle me the things some of these ppl do. Hmm.

camobel said...

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