Experiencing a health scare in his early 30s wasn’t something product manager Dominic Goh expected. The 32-year-old father of one suffered a stroke in 2020 – right when the world descended into lockdown and stay-home mandates came into play.
Like many other professionals, the transition to work from home meant blurred boundaries between home and work, longer hours at his desk and less time for healthy activities. Putting in consecutive 14-hour days in his previous role eventually took a toll on Dom’s health and he suffered a stroke at only 31.
It’s hard to find a silver lining to such an episode. But if there was something Dom took away from this is how fragile and unpredictable life is. It’s an awareness that has shifted his priorities: not only was it a wake-up call to look after his health, working on projects and opportunities that are meaningful is important to Dom.
Below, read on to find out what’s on Dom’s #daretodream wishlist, what his favourite Autumn feature is and what his best investment to date is. (Hint: it’s an “aww-worthy” one!)
How did you wind up doing what you’re doing today?
I was working really, really hard in my previous job. It was towards the end of 2020, right after the first circuit breaker in Singapore. That was a tough time for most people who had to work from home. Because I had more meetings than usual, I had less time to do actual work, so I was pulling 14, even 16-hour days. I figured that I was young and I could just, you know, wake up the next day, take a shower, get back in front of the screen. I also forgot about working out.
And then suddenly, my body broke down. I had a stroke – I still remember – on the ninth of September. My company was nice enough to give me time to recover and when I got back to work, they offered to cut my workload in half.
I was waiting for my insurance payout in the meantime (I was initially thinking of taking a gap year and focusing on my health) when I was approached with an offer at Autumn.
I found Autumn to be a really interesting proposition. For the first time in my seven years in product management, I found a product I could resonate with so well. The idea of future planning, being able to help every man on the street and equipping him with financial literacy… it really appealed to me. Unfortunately, we don’t teach basic things like taking care of your health or your financial health in schools, right? I had the opportunity to work on a project that means a lot to me, and so, I decided to take up the challenge.
I hope you’re taking better care of yourself these days. What was the impact of your diagnosis on you and your family?
The thing is, it’s hard to fathom, even until today. The doctor told me that throughout his 30 years career, I’m the second youngest guy to have had a stroke (outside of those medically caused ones). Strokes are very debilitating: if you have one that causes you to be incapacitated, it’ll cause a lot of stress to your family. That’s why it’s hard, even today, to accept it. It took a toll on my family, my wife and my marriage as well. No one’s taught how to handle this situation, right?
The main life lesson that I took away from this, and one I often tell my friends and family, is to try and be prepared for the unexpected, as cliched as it sounds. And don’t think that you’re invincible, no matter how old you are. I don’t think anyone close to me thought I was going to get a stroke at age 31. I’m just very thankful that I was prepared at least. I received a payout sizable enough that if I were to budget well, I don’t think I’ll need to work for the rest of my life.
What’s something you wish you’d learn sooner?
Earlier in my career, my focus was all about amassing wealth. Experiencing a stroke made me realize how fragile life is. And health, I hate to admit, was really an aspect that I was neglecting. I used to be really an active kid back in school. I always played sports and represented my school in basketball, football, rugby… But when you grow older, you don’t have that kind of discipline anymore.
After the stroke, it struck me hard that health was an area that I had neglected. At the end of the day, it’s not just whatever you have in your bank account, right? It’s everything else that counts.
What’s the best investment you ever made? (It doesn’t have to be monetary!)
Getting married and starting a family! My wife is here, so I have to say that. (laughs) First of all, having a partner provides joy and a different dimension of love. Having a child is also very much like a return that money can’t buy. They’re both investments of commitment and time. I also often tell people that my best investment was to go for LASIK because, as someone who had myopia, it brought about so much convenience.
That said, I do want to invest more time in my parents. They’re in their golden years already, and I should try to spend more time with them.
What’s on your #daretodream list?
I want to lose a whole deal of weight. I sincerely hope my parents are still healthy. I’d also like to strike out and do something on my own. I enjoy whatever I’m doing now at Autumn – it’s one of the few jobs I had where I feel like I can make decisions like a business owner – but at the end of the day, I want to pursue something of my own. I have a few ideas and passion projects which I regretted not doing earlier in university. I’m to do them five to ten years down the road.
I’m a big foodie, so it’ll involve F&B and tech!
Lastly, what is your favourite Autumn feature?
Right now, I’m really excited about Your Circle. It’s like a pet project of my own. I’m trying hard to get my wife started in her own financial planning. I feel it’s not just her responsibility to, but also mine, as her partner, if anything happens to me because of my history of stroke. It’s a really great application that allows to do co-planning together. The (Your Circle) feature allows her to see the plans that I have made, and I think it would also help her get started and be interested in what I’m primarily planning for the family unit.
Also read: For entrepreneur and co-founder of The Kind Friend Jamie, true success is simply ‘inner peace’
Follow Dom’s #daretodream journey on our socials. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. Enjoyed this article? Take your little step today – write your dream pledge card for 2022 here.