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Art of Pulling Best Side of Others – Life of Soon Kyu Shin

Soon Kyu's Positive Influence
Soon Kyu’s Positive Influence on media (source: website)

Soon Kyu Shin is a renowned Wall Street analyst who started off as the first blind analyst at JP Morgan and is now a VP at Brown Brothers Harriman(source). While the media spotlights somewhat obvious attributes that led him to overcome his disabilities (such as his family, effort, and social infrastructure), I noticed something different. His ability to pull kindness out of people instead of ignorance and hostility is the core strength that has led him to success. As an immigrant who was often put into the situation to ask for help from others, I cannot stress enough the importance of this quality.

Know your rights and convince

accessible entry

Soon Kyu was the first blind Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), and the story of how he could achieve this is mindblowing. At the time, the institution did not have any accessibility system ready for blind people, which meant they had no brailles or audio assistants. If I were him, I would have been intimidated and felt guilty to demand systemic changes just for me. However, he negotiated the way through to find a way to take the test. CFA and he successfully agreed on three environmental help to help blind people like him to take the test:

  1. CFA to prepare someone who can read the question and write down the answer
  2. CFA to prepare a separate room for the helper and blind test takers
  3. CFA to provide more time in consideration of the extra time needed for speaking and writing the test

How was this possible? My analysis of his successful negotiation with CFA lies in his deep understanding of his right and a belief that he helping the institution to grow. The list of demands he made is focused on how he could compete equally with others, not putting him ahead of others. Therefore, his demands had the power to convince CFA to make a history of accessibility. As a result, Soon Kyu could earn CFA Charter and CFA could grow as an institution with its effort to accessibility. Three more visually impaired people earned CFA Charter after Soon Kyu (source).

Do the extra work

One thing that CFA could not accommodate was the model of the calculator he could use for the test. CFA only allowed two models of calculators for test takers to use, and neither had braille nor audio assistance. Allowing a different calculator model required big changes and was considered not fair to other test takers, so Soon Kyu decided to comply. To use the calculator authorized by CFA, he memorized the whole calculator.  

Captured from You Quiz
Captured from You Quiz

Throughout his life, he did his best to overcome his challenges, which is another important attitude to pull respect out of people. On top of memorizing the whole calculator for the CFA test, as an analyst at JP Morgan, he would spend extra 4 hours every night scanning research papers into the file he can read. Without his effort and willingness to do extra work, he would not be able to open the door of opportunities formerly closed to visually impaired people. 

Pull the best side of others


No matter how nice you are, your counterpart often governs your attitude. Kindness brings kindness, and rudeness brings rudeness. The environment is also important, as affluence conveys generosity, just as fertile land brings a good harvest. While you may not be able to control the situation, you can control yourself to pull the best side of people, just like Soon Kyu has done.

He was confident in requesting accommodations to improve accessibility, by knowing his rights and convincing others that both sides can win. He did not complain about making an extra effort, which helps others to be moved by his initiatives. In the society we live in, we are often put into a situation where we have to become a beneficiary. At those moments, I want to remember Soon Kyu’s simple and effective attitude, to ultimately pull the best side of your counterpart. We all have a willingness to help others, and Soon Kyu’s story shows how to best position ourselves to induce the best quality out of each other.

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