Only dead fish swim with the current

Today, I go off the beaten track to share something that has left a huge impression on me personally. This happened a few weeks back at The Global Luxury Forum, an annual event organised by RCLG (Retail, Consumer and Luxury Goods Club).

After a 14-hour flight from Singapore, I arrived in Paris, eagerly awaiting the big day. We arrived bright and early on the day of the forum at InterContinental Paris - Le Grand, and took in the tranquillity before hundreds of guests arrived. The event was a full-day event and was slated to have over 30 industry leaders and experts speak about the theme: new frontiers of technology, human connectivity, emotional engagement and value-driven business models. It was the third edition of the series that brought together professionals and students from around the region.

Throughout the day, many interesting perspectives on sustainability, innovation and creativity were shared. Without a doubt, my favourite speech of the day had to be the one by Jean-Claude Biver, Non-Executive Chairman of the LVMH Watchmaking Division. A veteran of the industry, he was an illustrious speaker and a prominent figure.

Biver spoke of his journey in LVMH and laid down pearls of wisdom throughout his speech, which could be summarised by his words, “Only dead fish swim with the current.” With gusto, a cheerful laugh and a gripped fist, he challenged us to stay young by learning every day and making mistakes. For someone who grapples with the fear of failure, this was like salt to my wounds - absolutely necessary but unavoidably painful.

He also shared with us how he practises this in his work through regular "mistake meetings" with his team. Using this meeting, everyone learns from one another’s mistakes to prevent any further missteps down the line. It was beautiful. So simple and so effective.

Lastly, he encouraged us not to have convictions but doubts. Convictions keep us in our lane and in the end, we learn nothing. However, doubts are not useful unless they are shared with others. This way, we learn and stay humble.

Watching this sage who had the soul of a spirited youth, I was completely energised.

My head was spinning with ideas by the end of his speech – I could not help but feel like someone had lit a fire under me.

It was an amazing experience to contribute to this event with the 18D leadership and alumni organising team, and to learn from the speakers. I connected with the school, the industry and other students in a way that no classroom could have allowed me to. To be in the heat of the action and at the centre of the dialogue – it was a unique access that I will cherish for a long time.