How to Be So Good They Cannot Ignore You [W&S 75 ft Coen Tan]

Ever feel like you’re just going through the motions at work, trading time for dollar but lacking passion and purpose? Or maybe you fear being exposed as a fraud in your role/industry? If you’re plagued by career stagnation or imposter syndrome, it’s time to start nurturing your career capital.

Reggie and Dawn welcomed Coen Tan, a leadership speaker, coach, and facilitator, to discuss the concept of “career capital” – the unique skills that give you bargaining power in your career. The conversation was enlightening, offering valuable insights for professionals seeking to build their career capital and leverage it for growth.

“Having career capital gives you bargaining power,” explained Coen.
“It allows you to ask for promotions and raises, because your employer sees your value.”


– Coen Tan, leadership coach and host of the Wholehearted Leadership Podcast. He disclosed how the term “wholehearted” resonated with him, replacing the perception of intensity with an unwavering commitment to his pursuits. Coen’s wholehearted approach became the driving force behind his podcast, where he invites leaders to share their experiences and insights. His dedication and relentless pursuit of excellence have earned him a wealth of career capital.

What even is career capital?

It’s the unique skills, abilities and impact that make you indispensable and highly-valued in your field. When you consciously build undeniable expertise that can’t be ignored, you unlock a world of leverage for negotiating raises, unlocking opportunities and designing the career of your dreams.

“Career capital is that one unique skill that you possess that distinguishes you,” he said. “And that skill must be somewhat related to your career, obviously.”

However, career capital isn’t just about having one extraordinary skill. As Dawn pointed out, some people possess a blend of skills that makes them unique. “It’s not just one skill, but often we think of one skill to make it simple, right? Just get started,” Coen clarified. “It’s like a skill stack.”

Who needs Career Capital?

In this candid guide, leadership coach Coen breaks down how to identify the capital that’s been hiding in plain sight all along by excavating your personal origin story for clues. He also shares the career capital skill set that global corporations are desperately seeking in leaders today.

Feeling invisible and undervalued at work despite your talents? Or aspiring to level up your career impact, income and flexibility? It all starts with being intentional about cultivating your unfair competitive advantage. Because when you bank expertise that can’t be ignored, the world becomes your oyster.

Tired of going through the motions while your dreams and potential gather dust? Or constantly doubting your worth and abilities despite working harder than everyone else? It’s time to start building the career capital that transitions you from low-valued worker bee to highly-compensated superstar in your field.

Identifying Your Career Capital

To build career capital, Coen advised looking inward and understanding your origin story. “Knowing your origin story helps you understand why you do what you do,” he said. Recognising the themes and motivations that have shaped your life can reveal the skills you’ve naturally developed.

Coen shared an example of a friend who discovered her true career capital was empowering the underdogs, something she had always been drawn to, even in her school drama days. “She was like, ‘Oh, wow. Coen, you gave me a new perspective on how I run my business and the kind of target audience I work best with,'” he recounted.

Understanding the Essence of Your Work

Beyond knowing yourself, Coen emphasised the importance of understanding the essence of what you do in your career. “Very often, people don’t think about what is the essence of what you’re doing,” he said. “Like podcast hosts, what are you? What is the essence of what you’re doing? The essence of what you’re doing is really curating.”

By recognising the core purpose behind your role, you can cultivate the skills that support and enhance that essence. For example, if the essence of being a financial planner is protecting people’s wealth, skills like networking (to connect clients with valuable resources) become part of your career capital.

The Skill Stack: Combining Talents for Success:

Reggie and Dawn explored the idea of a “skill stack,” where multiple skills are combined to create a distinctive value proposition. While having a single standout skill is valuable, a skill stack allows individuals to leverage a variety of competencies in unique ways. For instance, negotiation skills paired with networking, rapport-building, and relationship-management abilities can form a powerful skill stack, contributing to one’s career capital.

Overcoming Obstacles: When Passion Doesn’t Pay

One challenge that Dawn raised was what to do when your passion or strength lies in an area that may not be well-compensated in society. She shared her own story of loving writing as a child but being discouraged by her parents, who saw little financial prospects in becoming an author in Singapore.

Coen acknowledged the dilemma and offered a potential solution: “Some people get that translated on in life to switch, right? So they took up a corporate job first, built up their capital, not career capital, but actual capital. And then after that, once they were ready for it, they took the plunge and they did what they really love to.”

The 5 Signs Your Interest is True Passion (And Not Just a Bright Shiny Object)

1. You’re willing to suffer for it on hard days
2. It’s something you’ve sustained interest in for years
3. You’re constantly learning and improving related skills
4. Feedback and criticism only motivate you more
5. You pursue it whether you “have to” or not for work

While not everyone may have the luxury of taking that path, Coen’s advice highlighted the importance of being strategic about building career capital, even if it means temporarily pursuing a different path to secure financial stability before pivoting to one’s true passion.

Demonstrating Your Career Capital

As the conversation progressed, Coen emphasised that possessing career capital is not enough – you must also be able to demonstrate it visibly. “You must have visible, tangible demonstration of how good you are at it,” he said. “Because even if you’re good at something and you don’t tell people, who knows?”

This point resonated with Dawn, who acknowledged her initial shyness and the intentional effort required to develop her networking skills, now a significant part of her career capital. “I actually built this up,” she shared. “I was not born a social butterfly.”

“Develop a craftsman’s mentality in your passion,” Coen recommended. “Get so skilled people must notice your work.” True passion plus career capital, they agreed, empowers one to eventually build a career around their driving interests.

You can check their full interview on Wise & Shine, Episode 75 on Spotify, YouTube, Google podcast, Apple podcast for a guide, learn how to leverage your life experiences and innate strengths into a force to be reckoned with. Discover the career capital skill set that global corporations value most, and the mindset shift that ensures your talents can’t be ignored or underestimated any longer. When you start nurturing your unfair competitive advantage, you open the door to opportunities, income and impact.

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