Obama still has the power to inspire
Ex-US president offers insights on various subjects, speaks with candour and class at discussion
He talked about Athenian general and historian Thucydides and the lessons China and the US can take from his account of the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens.
He spoke about climate change and its ability to displace millions in South Asia.
He said women would make better leaders than men.
He dissected how the making of a successful basketball team offered leadership lessons. He spoke about Gandhi's Salt March and India's triumph over the colonialists and Martin Luther King Jr's battle against segregation and racism.
He talked about poverty, the plus points of social media and its ills and why Asia matters.
He talked about ego and poop.
Former US president Barack Obama, whose eight-year term ended in 2016, talked like a leader yesterday, most of all because he was refreshingly human and also because he made sense, which in this climate of intense divisiveness, bluster and ugly rhetoric, is a balm.
This kind of leader reminds us all what leading decision-makers must possess and the way they should behave.
There is a reason his considerable band of followers endure and the names Barack and Michelle Obama remain two of the most popular figures the world over.
Speaking in a discussion organised by Australian business events provider The Growth Faculty at the Singapore Expo, Mr Obama's intellect, humour and intimate knowledge of history and world affairs shone through as he easily picked up on a swathe of topics offered by moderator Nicholas Fang, director of security and global affairs at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.
And for over an hour, Mr Obama was unafraid to sometimes remind the audience of more than 4,500 professionals and businessmen that he and his team made mistakes, that they were not perfect.
He lamented the fact that politics had become so partisan, and even if President Donald Trump was never mentioned, Mr Obama stood out in stark contrast.
To be able to solve problems, he will always want people smarter than him on his team.
He cited the example of Mr Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize winner in physics in 1997 who was his energy secretary.
Mr Chu helped end one of the worst oil spills in history in 2010, when his idea of a hat-like structure to cap off the well in the Gulf of Mexico worked.
Mr Obama said his team always maintained high ethical standards.
That is a lesson for every president, chief executive and leader, because as Mr Obama says, it should be about making things better, making people better and saving lives.
A colleague said his humanness resonated. A close friend later said she was struck by his candour and normalcy, even looseness.
Mr Obama worried over the fate of Myanmar's Rohingya and India's new citizenship law that seems to be anti-Muslim.
He talked of growing up in Indonesia, of the energy he feels in Vietnam today and why he made a pivot towards Asia during his presidency.
Surely there has never been an American leader more knowledgeable of this continent than the 44th president, the first African-American to occupy the highest office in the US.
He pointed to a table beside him and said some on social media would call it a chair or an elephant and that spreading such a false narrative would be easy with today's technology.
Mr Obama warned that such falsehoods, if allowed to take root, would lead to the breakdown of systems.
He cited credible evidence that a long drought in Syria led to the cataclysmic events that have torn the Middle Eastern country apart and destabilised a region, and left world powers on different sides.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said climate change is an existential threat and Mr Obama agrees.
The Democrat said he is a cautious optimist because the world has never been wealthier, there is less violence and people are more educated and tolerant.
If he could choose when to be a youngster, this would be the time.
It is why the Obamas are spending much of their time working with young talent from around the world, guiding them to become the leaders and decision-makers who can realise their potential and steer the world a better place.
At just 58 years old, he is still armed with the gift to deliver a powerful message and inspire.
Mr Obama's ability to shape America and also influence the world may not have run its course.