The Polymath Civil Servant Who Writes Poetry and Innovates, Aaron Maniam

Aaron Maniam is the Director (Industry Division) of the Ministry of Trade and Industry Singapore.

He has received numerous awards including (but not limited to), Asia Society’s “Asia 21 Young Leaders’ (2006), Singapore Youth Award (2012), and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader (2013).

Aaron’s poems have won many awards including the National Arts Council’s Golden Point Award  (2003). His poems have been featured in online journals such as Stylus and Softblow and in print publications such as Fifty on 50, From Walden to Woodlands, La Traductiere, Journal des Poètes, and Becoming Poets.

He is also the author of Morning at Memory’s Border – one of the three books shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize in 2007.

In 1995, Aaron was Singapore’s top student in the Cambridge GCE ‘O’ Level Examination.

Aaron holds a Master of Arts in International & Development Economics from Yale University and a Master of Public Policy from the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University.

In this conversation, we spoke about

  • Strengths of a Polymath
  • How can introverts develop the skills of an extrovert?
  • Tools for a 21st-century innovator
  • and a whole more!

I hope you enjoy my conversation with Aaron Maniam as much as I did!

If you’ve only got 2 minutes, here’s a short video on (Do You Believe You Can Control your Life?)



I’m giving away my entire wedding planning business. The link below will have more details on the giveaway and application.

Click “continue reading” for the link and show notes…

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favourite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Show Notes

Why does Aaron identify himself as a Polymath? [0:01:02]
Aaron’s process for acquiring information on a tight timeline [0:05:57]
Aaron on people either being left or right-brained [0:09:12]
Aaron explains the strengths of being a polymath [0:14:33]
How does Aaron achieve such good academic grades? [0:17:26]
Aaron’s process for remembering new information [0:23:45]
Aaron shares stories from his childhood [0:27:09]
How did Aaron learn to be an extrovert? [0:33:50]
Aaron shares his experience at Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government [0:37:48]
The different between a good mentor and a great mentor [0:52:07]
What does poetry mean in Aaron’s current season of life? [0:56:34]
Aaron on failures [1:04:333]
How did Aaron embrace being different? [1:10:23]
How does a day look like as the Director of Ministry of Trade and Industry [1:13:12]
Aaron shares thoughts on why one should consider joining the civil service? [1:18:43]
Aaron shares some advice on stretching the mind of a traditionalist [1:20:23]
Aaron shares practices to identify and disengage from useless narratives [1:27:23]
Aaron on the highest purpose and dark sides of the civil and private sector? [1:31:51]
Aaron shares his experience on learning to be an idealist [1:40:01]
How does Aaron plan his week to achieve maximum output? [1:47:26]
Aaron on the fluff and importance of thinking about the future [1:52:18]

Links Mentioned

Connect with Aaron Maniam:
Twitter | Medium | Facebook

TED Talk by Emilie Wapnick (Why some of us don’t have one true calling)
Jerry Michalski’s Brain 
The Brain
Quiet by Susan Cain
TED Talk of Susan Cain (The Power of Introverts)
The Sound of Sense by Robert Frost
Tri-sector Athlete by Professor Joseph Niles
Headspace app
Pierre Wack (futurist)
The Birthday Book by Malminderjit Singh
Olivia Lee (Experiential Designer)
Morning at Memory’s Border by Aaron Maniam
Prayer in the Cave of the Heart by Cyprian Consiglio
The Sound of Music by Robert Wise

Thanks for listening!

And if you have any experience with anything we talked about, I’d love for you to open up in the comments.

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Also, please leave an honest review for Misfits Podcast on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and I read each and every one of them.

Special thanks to Aaron for a great interview. Until next time!

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