Search form

Writers' Fortnight selection: Pursuing your passion

CSS MenuMaker

Writers' Fortnight selection: Pursuing your passion

“DO IT, before it’s too late,” he tells us, as he brings the session to a close. Following your passion, regardless of the neigh – sayers was a constant theme present in the talk given to us by Danny Raven Tan. An artist, he himself lives by that statement, turning his back to the 15 or so years invested in the lucrative property industry, all so that he could finally pursue his ambitions.

‘Follow your dreams’, the main sentiment behind every inspirational poster you will come across, this piece of advice is given to us by just about everyone; ranging from historical icons such as Walt Disney to your friends, as you start up yet another game of CSGO. The statistics, however? They tell a completely different story. For instance, let’s take a look at the field of entrepreneurship, one that is pursued by many. Approximately 543,000 new businesses are starting every month, according to an article by Forbes. Out of those, “8 out of 10” entrepreneurs who start their own businesses, fail within the “first 18 months” of operations. An 80% failure rate.

Furthermore, this low success rate is not constrained to the field of entrepreneurship. The profession of being an author, one that is desired by many, is another field plagued with low chances for success. For instance, Nielsen BookScan reported that in 2004, out of 1.2 million books tracked, only 25,000, sold more than 5000 copies. Think about that, out of 1.2 million books published, barely 2% of them could be considered successful.

Danny himself admitted to the struggles that as an artist, he has to face. Earning a living is one of the primary challenges that he faces to this day. For example, while conducting an interview with the Singaporean based magazine ‘TODAY’, he admitted that he was “eating into his savings”, that it certainly wasn’t and still isn’t easy for him.

Faced with these seemingly insurmountable statistics, surely people would have to be crazy to give up the stability and safety of their everyday job and pursue their dreams, right? Why would anyone even consider doing something so risky and hazardous?

One potential reason may be due to job dissatisfaction. A survey conducted by Accenture, a global management consulting firm, looked at job satisfaction levels of 3400 employees across 29 different nations. Out of all those surveyed, less than half were satisfied with their jobs, stating several different reasons why, such as feeling that there were no “opportunities for career advancement”. Hating your job, feeling like you have nothing to lose, those sentiments could very well be why so many people do decide to face the daunting odds.

This idea rings true in Danny’s story as well. Forced into the property industry against his will, he quickly grew tired of his job and eventually deciding enough was enough, moved industries, and into fields that were of greater interest to him, finally arriving at his dream profession; being an artist.

Despite there being valid reasons to leave a stable, well-paying job,  there still remains the question of whether or not it is possible to chase after and realize your dreams, and if possible, what does one need to do?

To answer these questions, let us look at real-life examples of people who left their jobs, and realized their true goals and ambitions.

The first example that we have is Adam D’Angelo, founder of Quora, a popular internet question-and-answer site. In May 2008, Adam left his post as Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer, to launch what would eventually become Quora.

His motivation? He wanted to make a positive change, starting in an interview with Business Insider that he felt he could “make a bigger impact”, by starting Quora, rather than “continuing to optimize Facebook”. In the same interview, he also gave a tip to like-minded entrepreneurs and business owners, stating that “hiring good people” was integral to his success.

Another good example that we can take a look at is the story of Thorkil Sonne, founder of Specialisterne. After his son was diagnosed with autism, Sonne proceeded to quit his job at a Danish Telecom Company, launching Specialisterne, a technology firm that utilized the strengths of those with autistic disorders.

His mission to “created opportunities” for those with autism on “an international scale”, his company went on to become very successful, branching out internationally. HIs one tip? As stated in an interview with Harvard Business Review, “the key is to find situations that fit employee’s personalities and ambitions”, instead of “ everybody into one mold”. In other words, use the strengths and passion of your employee’s.

There you have it. It’s clear, the odds are stacked against you if you do decide to follow your dreams and there will almost certainly be hurdles and difficulties in your path, with plenty of failures mixed in as well. However, you might have already figured that out and this article did nothing more than reaffirming that belief.  ‘What then, is the point of this article’, is a question you may now be asking yourself.

To answer that question, direct your attention once again to the section with the statistics regarding failure.

Despite, those seemingly impossible odds, people time and time again choose to brave them, even if they know they are going to fail.

Because of their passion, because of their determination, and some, like the examples above, eventually did achieve success.

To conclude, I am going to leave you with a statement made by Danny Raven Tan in the talk given to us. “It is, going to be hard, but if you have the passion, you can make it work”. Be unafraid and chase your dreams. After all, we only get given one shot, so might as well make the most of it.


Goalcast. “Top 15 Walt Disney Quotes to Awaken the Dreamer in You.” Goalcast, 6 June 2017,

Nazar, Jason. “16 Surprising Statistics About Small Businesses.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 30 June 2014,

Wagner, Eric T. “Five Reasons 8 Out Of 10 Businesses Fail.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 2 Sept. 2015,

“A Bookselling Tail.”,

Astrid. “Itunes.” Career Talk Pro a Professional Career Podcasts, 1 Oct. 2011,

“Starting Your Own Business: Stories of People Who Followed Their Dreams.”,

This student article was selected for publication among this year's Writers' Fortnight-inspired student writings. The assignment to students was to tell the story of someone they met during Writers’ Fortnight who they feel embodies an important social issue - OR to use the stories of several speakers to engage with a shared human experience - OR to write about a matter of personal importance - and to do so as authentically, responsibly and powerfully as possible.

To explore more of the Writers' Fortnight-inspired student writing, please view our Flipboard.

27 Apr 2018
Media and Republish

Related articles