Photo credit: WALTER TAY


Walter Tay, 33, never imagined he would end up as a hawker in his earlier years. Knowing the challenges of entering the F&B scene in Singapore, Walter hopes to help aspiring hawkers break into the industry by offering advice and connections within his network of F&B veterans, according to their needs. He shares six lessons that he has learnt throughout his journey.

1. Have foresight, but more importantly, have the courage to dive in

I decided to pick up the trade when I noticed all my favourite hawker uncles and aunties retiring. Not many people in my generation want to take over and keep hawker culture running, as being a hawker is physically demanding and is also seen as “low class”. However, I also knew there was a possibility that there would be a wave of new young hawkers rising. So, I chose this occupation despite the natural hesitations and the need to be validated by society.

2. Rise up regardless of how often you fall

People say you are foolish if you repeat your mistakes. In that case, I must be a fool each time that I fail. However, there are some people, like myself, who are slower learners. And that is okay. Life doesn’t end when we experience failure, it only ends when our time on earth is up. So, don’t give up and keep going.

3. Break free from social norms

Social norms used to create unnecessary fear for me. It was so crippling that I wasted my life doing what I thought was “acceptable” for the sake of pleasing others. As soon as  I stopped playing that game, I started discovering opportunities which have always existed for me.

4. Do what is needed, not just what you like

If I only did what I naturally enjoyed, I would probably try to become a professional gamer – and a mediocre one at best as I’m not that gifted in the world of esports. It is also important for me to consider what society needs and try to fill in those gaps whenever I can.

5. Learn to be content instead of choosing happiness

We often think that happiness is something beyond our reach and that we have to work hard to achieve it. But it is important to realise that happiness is a state of contentment and that it can be found wherever we choose to see it.

6. Don't listen to others without thinking for yourself

Life was really confusing when I simply listened to people’s advice at face value. You see, what worked for them might not work for me or the context I am in. Similarly, what worked for me might not work for you. Take only the ideas that resonate with you. It is a lot more fun to pave your own way through!

This article was published on Sep 6, 2021

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