By Gary Thandi
Perminder Tung is a Lawyer and the youngest Partner at Lindsay Kenney LLP and reflects back on his life and career and shares with DRISHTI readers some sage words of advice that will help them to reach their full potential.
Perminder was born and raised in Surrey, B.C. to two supportive immigrant parents. His mother was a room attendant at a Vancouver hotel and his father was a courier driver. From them, he says he learned two key lessons: “Firstly, to treat all people with respect and dignity. Secondly, never place your personal financial gain ahead of your reputation.” In other words, work hard to earn an honest dollar.
He acknowledges a positive and supportive upbringing, though also recalls some personal challenges that ultimately helped to define who he would become.
“I was overweight and unhealthy and was cut from my grade 8 basketball tryouts. It was my mission from that point forward to lose the weight, change my habits, and make the team, which I did. This is very much a part of who I am – focused with a solid work ethic. I believe that the difference makers are the ones that have laser focus and don’t allow distractions, quick fixes, or temporary failures get in their way.”
Perminder also recalls some more difficult experiences during his teenage years. “In my high school years, there was violence—drugs, alcohol, weapons, racism, and even a few deaths. It was an interesting time to be a teenager in the mid-90’s. Our parents were working immigrants and we were first generation Canadians struggling to find identity.”
Perminder states that he feels fortunate to have made it out of his high school circumstances and often returns to speak to students about his background as well as to inspire them. “I feel like there is another version of me out there – wavering on the edge and struggling, and I want to find him and be there for him. They say that intense pressure on carbon is what produces diamonds in nature. The adversity and struggles of growing up in the inner city is the pressure that produces some bright kids. They are diamonds in the rough. So I like speaking to these kids.”
Perminder completed his undergraduate degree at Simon Fraser University in 2004. While completing his undergraduate degree, he met his future wife, Mandeep. They married at 21 years old, and soon after that, he was accepted to law school, and the newlyweds moved to Ontario. They supported each other as he studied law and Mandeep pursued her career as a Chartered Accountant. “During those years, we lived in a small apartment, away from home, in our early 20s, living off student loans and lines of credit—it was intense, but those experiences brought us close together. We learned about who we were. And now, here we are, fifteen years later, best friends, with two young and very impressionable children. They will live a different life than we did – our next challenge is how to raise them. They will not face the same adversity as their parents or grandparents.”
Perminder completed his Bachelor of Laws at the University of Windsor and Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the University of Detroit. “I think people used to say to me that I was born to be a lawyer,” he says with a laugh. He is now a successful Partner at LK Law and shares stories as a young articling student. “I was articling at a downtown firm and wanted to work at LK Law in Langley. I went up to one of the firm’s partners at a legal conference, and said, ‘Listen, I grew up in the Fraser Valley, I can build a practice, I’ll do the work, so take a shot on me,’ and they did,” he recalls. “And in a short time, I served my clients, served the community, built my reputation, and eventually became the youngest and first South Asian partner in the firm’s history.”
Perminder practices as an ICBC Injury Claims Lawyer and is passionate about helping his clients get on a path to recovery and compensation for their injuries. He has extensive litigation experience and is often approached by people to help them with all of their legal needs, which he oversees and directs to his other partners and lawyers at his firm.
In describing his career, Perminder recalls some words of advice his father gave him several years ago.
He said, “Your reputation is something you work hard to build, and you can lose it in an instant, so don’t do anything that will harm that reputation. That was great advice from my father and is something that respected, senior lawyers will often say to new lawyers.”
“When you interact with people, it is important to deal with them respectfully. Whether they are another professional, a restaurant server, a janitor or frankly anyone – that is ultimately how you earn respect in return. It is not something you turn off and on when it suits you; live by these principles in your daily life.”
Perminder says that volunteer service is important to build your reputation and to contribute to your community. Perminder served on the Board of Directors for the South Asian Bar Association from 2008 to 2018 and as President from 2016 to 2018. Here he served his profession and grew the organization to better serve and represent the community at large. A more recent commitment is his service on the Board of Governors of a growing independent school in the Fraser Valley. The not-for-profit elementary school’s mission is to offer a high quality and affordable International Baccalaureate (IB) education.
Perminder says he gets great satisfaction when he brings together his friends and professional colleagues for community service. In 2015 they started attending a number of their Surrey high schools and created a program that supports young entrepreneurs. “We created a program we call Shark Tank, based on the TV show. We help students prepare an entrepreneurial pitch, we guide them, help them to develop a business plan, and then they present it in front of their entire school. We also help to connect these students to resources to eventually help them execute their plan.”
In addition to the belief that children, youth, and adults must be respected and encourage them to reach their potential, Perminder has several other values he holds dear. One is recognizing the importance of setting and re-setting goals. He says we should do this on all aspects of our lives: work/career, health and fitness, and personal finances/net-worth. “Set goals. Achieve them. Re-set them. Achieve them and then re-set to goals that appear to be unattainable. This is one of the biggest indicators of success, and less than 10% of people do it regularly. How can you ever get anywhere if you do not know which direction you are heading?”
Perminder is also an avid reader and feels we all should be reading as much as possible, and limiting our screen time. “If you can’t find the time to read, a great alternative is podcasts or audiobooks. Reading and podcasts allow me to learn from others – some or our greatest thinkers are sharing free and honest information via this medium.” Perminder says that this gives us all lessons to better aspects of our lives.
“Never give up,” is Perminder’s perpetual advice to young people. “Every problem is an opportunity waiting to be discovered. Stay positive and find the silver lining in all of your stressful situations. You will learn from your plight. There is no doubt about it. Be open to change and find opportunities in transition. Pick yourself up, grind through it, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. It is the journey that is most rewarding.”
In our discussions with Perminder, it is clear that love is a central part of his composition. He says, “Love yourself in order to better love others.” He believes that being proud of yourself and who you are, for your faults and your positive characteristics, is central for you to have balance and happiness in your life and relationships. “Work on yourself to get to a better place, then you can have better relationships with others. Love people for who they are not for who you wish/want them to be. When you accept what is beyond your control you free yourself up to create deeper more meaningful bonds.”
We have asked Perminder to reduce his principles of life into 15 rules for success in life and business, which will be prepared for our next issue.