Is drive more important than talent?

Is drive more important than talent?

Special feature

Text: Norman Tan

Photo: Vanessa Caitlin

Three Buro 24/7 Singapore readers — Nat Ho, Keith Png and Russell Ong — share their experience on the value of perseverance

The old adage — "You either have it or you don't" — assumes that talent is the key to success. But what about the value of passion and perseverance?

In an exclusive shoot with Italian luxury sportswear label, Paul & Shark, we ask three prominent Buro readers, each embarking on exciting new projects, to share their experience and thoughts on the topic: Is talent more important than drive?

Nat Ho wearing Paul & Shark
Nat Ho, actor and singer

The actor, model, singer and, all-around good guy, is currently starring in the new TV drama, Tanglin, in addition to cutting new music and shooting a music video.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Once you make a decision, the Universe conspires to make it happen."
Over and over again, I have found this to be true. Making a decision is the first step towards putting things into action. Without action, nothing will ever happen. Talent can only take you so far.

Releasing an album in Taiwan... and having my first single break into many of the radio Top 10 charts there, has to be one of my favourite career highlights to date. Pre-Taiwan, I used to think that maybe I was just lucky when I became an artiste here in Singapore. Going to Taiwan and starting all over from scratch as an unknown was a personal challenge I'd set for myself — if I could successfully become an artiste again, in a foreign country, it would prove that I didn't just get lucky — that I really do have what it takes. Achieving this was something that was incredibly empowering for me. 

There have been ups as well as downs in the course of my 10-year career. Often it's criticism and rejection, where you have to be mentally and emotionally strong in dealing with it, or perhaps even financially — you never know when you are going to book your next job. There really is only one way to overcome them: Grit your teeth and keep moving forward. As long as you're alive, as long as you keep pressing forward, there's always a chance to turn things around. The moment you give up, it's game over.

Creating things excites me. Whether it's bringing a character to life from script, writing a new piece of music, or creating a new music video from abstract concepts in my head. I'd like to think that I've made the world a better place — even in a small, tiny way — just by contributing to a project that means something to somebody.

Keith Png wears Paul & Shark

Keith Png, designer and celebrity stylist

The designer-turned-stylist has just launched his own YouTube channel, Style Me, to provide independent advice on fashion, beauty, food and travel.

Having a clear vision and focus trumps talent...
when it comes to achieving what you want in life. You have to be determined and go for it. My favourite quote? "Live life with no regrets." 

Despite my parents' objections... I persisted to pursue my passion in the fashion industry. When I first started out, I had no one to rely on, no mentor, no experience and no stable income. Singaporeans were not as appreciative of local designers in the early days and it was demoralising when my designs were not being appreciated or accepted. Despite all the challenges, I pressed on and was able to make an impact in the industry and become who I am today.

In 2012, I was invited to represent Singapore... by Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) in their reality television program, Asian Ace, for a fashion showdown between Japan and Singapore. I won the battle with a score of 3 against 0. That's definitely one of my favourite career highlights to date.

Making people look good and confident... with the least amount of effort drives me. So, in essence, my passion drives me. To gain the trust of my client and to always "push their button" gets me really excited and motivated. 

Russell Ong wears Paul & Shark

Russell Ong, ex-national swimmer and actor
Having traded in the swimming pool for the television studio, catch this rising star in the new Channel 5 show, Lion Moms.

If I had to choose, I would say drive is more important than talent. I've seen talented athletes go nowhere because they didn't know what they wanted and, as a result, didn't apply themselves to accomplish their potential.

I originally decided to retire from competitive swimming in 2010... after a bad year in the pool. But looking back, I'm so glad that I picked myself up and kept going. 2011 turned out to be an amazing year. I swam some of my fondest races that year and, as a personal highlight, I was also the fastest man in Southeast Asia in 2011.

I'm thankful for being able to parlay my successes in the pool... into acting opportunities. I had trouble with memorising the scripts in the beginning, but over time, I understood that it wasn't actually about memorising lines; it was about understanding them.

Persistence has been essential in accomplishing my goals. Quitting has never made a winner out of anyone. I'm trying to be the best that I can be. I've learnt to strive to my own standards rather than what people expect of me, and am driven to accomplish all I can in whatever I do.

All clothes and accessories from Paul & Shark
Photography: Vanessa Caitlin
Fashion direction: Norman Tan
Grooming: Angel Gwee using Laneige and Sebastian Professional
Fashion assistant: Andrea Sim 

Source: assistance: Andrea Sim