Be Different, Be the Difference: Coffee talk with Vincent Low,
Head of Enterprise Business, Singapore Operations of Canon
“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Find the sentence familiar? It’s a classic line from Apple’s iconic “Think Different” campaign back in 1997. Today, it’s the anchor inspiration behind Head of Enterprise Business, Singapore Operations of Canon, Mr. Vincent Low’s 2023 team slogan: Be Different, Be the Difference.
We caught up with Mr. Low over a cup of kopi siew dai to find out more about the philosophy behind his inspiring slogan, and what we can take away from it to learn and grow.
This all started when it was time for us to come up with a team slogan that’s in line with our corporate theme for 2023: Do with Full Swing.
As the head of Enterprise Business with almost 300 people — from field engineers to sales to marketing to administrative support — under my care, it was crucial that we come up with something that’s easy to understand, that can drive us all towards our goals for the year.
That was when the “Think Different” ad from Apple popped into my mind. I remembered it being a black and white TV commercial that celebrated many of history’s most famous rebels. People who eventually made a lasting impact and changed the world.
That was when I thought, “Okay. I’ll have a slogan that has the word “Different” in it.” And Be Different, Be the Difference was born.
We can approach the slogan from two main areas: “Be Different” and “Be the Difference”.
For the first part, we’re encouraging the team to look at how they can contribute differently as they go about their jobs. There are many ways we can do this. Like coming up with quicker customer solutions, going the extra mile in after-sales support, or even empathising with internal stakeholders.
On a broader level, we want to look at how we differentiate ourselves from our competitors. We have to stand out in many areas to be a market leader. Like professionalism, knowledge and providing the right recommendations.
Be the Difference
For the second part, it’s really about how every one of us can make a difference in various situations. Like contributing positively during team meetings. Or the way you approach different problems, like tough business deals and technical field issues. If we want to stay competitive, it’s important that we adopt a “I can make a difference” mindset.
That said, we have to be careful not to be different for the sake of being different. Being adaptable and open to new ideas are equally important traits that we should embody.
Overall, I see our slogan as a call for the team to adopt a “positively different” mindset. It’s also a source of motivation for them to keep pushing forward as we gradually recover from the impact of COVID-19.
The need to continuously learn and improve motivates me. Since trends in IT and technology change ever-so frequently, staying abreast of these changes is enough adrenaline to keep me and my team on our toes. To set new benchmarks. And continue our lead in the market.
Besides, the workforce has also changed tremendously over the course of my career. I’m a Gen X, so I had the privilege to learn from the Baby Boomers before me. Now, I’m learning from my younger peers — Gens Y and Z.
What’s more important, however, is the willingness to accept and understand the different perspectives from various stakeholders. That’s key to building strong and successful teams. And the foundation that got me through my many years in the trade.
At work, I aspire to impact lives positively. A leader’s key role is to groom more leaders. So setting the right environment and platform for my team to work, learn and grow is one key motivation. At the end of the day, I hope to be able to share my knowledge and experiences — particularly with the younger members — and hopefully inspire everyone to be the difference, and contribute to the organisation’s growth.
Out of work, my personal motto is “Collect Moments. Not Things”. My family is the centre of my universe. Being a role model for my wife and my three kids is what drives me to be a better husband, father and confidant.
I make sure to set lots of quality time aside for them — especially during weekends and after-work hours. It’s my goal to always be present, to be there to listen and provide the necessary support. I’d certainly want to make a difference in their lives. And mine as well!
For me, I see this from two different point-of-views: Employer and employee.
Imagine this. You’d want to make a positive difference in your organisation only if you’re happy where you are right? Where you’re treated fairly, led by leaders with a clear vision, with ample opportunities to learn and grow.
So before we can even ask of you, or my team, to contribute, we would first have to ask ourselves if we’ve provided a fair and inclusive work environment. Organisations play a very key role in encouraging employees to step forward and make a positive difference. It’s not a one-sided process.
Now, as an employee, it’s important that you understand that an organisation is made up of a complex mix of diverse needs and expectations. To rise above that, you’ve got to take a “WE” vs “I” attitude and mindset. You have to acknowledge that only WE can make a difference as we move towards a common goal.
It’s also important that we show empathy and acceptance towards one another. Focus on each other’s strengths. It’s only then can we build a GREAT team to help our organisation flourish.