A Sky Full of Stars

What scares me most isn’t the dying young – it’s the dying young and not having made any kind of impact and/or contribution to this world.

Glenn Frey, 67. 

Hotel California
Hotel California

My dad’s an accomplished guitar player. And I’d usually wake up to him playing the guitar on weekend mornings. Sometimes it’d be the BeeGees, or George Harrison, sometimes gospel music, sometimes Hotel California. It would also be insane whenever I watched my dad perform Hotel California live with other guitarists at church.

It’s just one of those songs you’d never forget after listening to it for the first time. Maybe it’s because of the guitar rifts, maybe it’s because of its catchy melody, maybe it’s because of the song’s distinctive combination of guitars (love the 12-string ones!), drums and vocals.

But it is truly a piece that the world will not forget. Glenn Frey co-wrote it and played the 12-string on it, brilliantly. Watch it here.

Alan Rickman, 69.

What I love most about Alan Rickman is his enduring poise. The way he speaks, the way he carries himself, the way he performs. Professor Snape. The crazy Sheriff of Nottingham. Absolem the Caterpillar (“Stupid girl”, he’d say to Alice). And whenever he talks he’s just wickedly funny. He brings real class to a business that isn’t always associated with that.

To me, he stole the show in the Harry Potter series.

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Alan Rickman as Professor Snape in Harry Potter.

When I was in my teens and even in my twenties, I never thought about death. Because I’d always assume that I’d live a long life. I had many, many years to go. It was all so infinite. I had time to figurethingsout.

Now that I’m in my thirties (and I seem to have gotten here really quick?!), some of the Greats are leaving this world in their sixties – and that doesn’t sound too far off from where I am at now.

What scares me most isn’t the dying young – it’s the dying young and not having made any kind of impact and/or contribution to this world.

Watching other people do spectacular things with their lives is a great reminder to keep reaching for the stars in my own. Now.

Reach For The Stars Now v2
“Reach for the stars. Now” – Lise Chew, The Supermamapreneur

 

Life is so short. Why would you half-ass anything?” – Damien Elston, CEO, JT Foxx Organization.

 

Maids Are The Backbone of Our Society

When I was growing up, we had a couple of domestic helpers around the house, usually from Philippines or Indonesia.

(For those unfamiliar with Singapore, domestic help is commonplace because it is affordable.)

From my observations, even as a child, I knew that good domestic help was difficult to find. When we did have a good helper, things at home were well taken care of and my parents and grandparents would be freed up to focus on more important things.

When the helper was not so good because of attitude, work ethic or other various issues, it would be stressful for everyone, to say the least.

Yesterday was Foreign Domestic Worker Day and all the helpers were enjoying themselves at the carnival that was specifically organised for them. We were there to attend the Foreign Domestic Worker Awards Ceremony because my Mother-in-law was nominated for Foreign Domestic Worker Employer of the year – and she WON! She’s travelling so my husband went to receive her award on her behalf and had so many interviews with the media.

Maids Photogrid
From left to right – 1st photo: Weihong receiving the award from Minister of State, Sam Tan; 2nd photo: arranging their pose for the camera; 3rd photo: SMILE!; 4th photo: Weihong & Marny getting interviewed by a Straits Times reporter.

 

(Read the Straits Times article here.)

It is always been amazing to me that my Mother-in-law has managed to keep her helper for 28 years. Marny came to Singapore in 1987 to work to support her son, and she’s been here ever since. 4 years into her job, Marny asked for a $10,000 loan to buy farmland in the Philippines and my Mother-in-law agreed to lend her the money (Read full article here.)

Of course we can all draw parallels to hiring employees to help in business. The good ones help to grow the company. The not so good ones are a drain on the company.

The really great, stable ones, to me, form the backbone of the company.  My stepfather’s secretary was with him for 30 years and that really helped to contribute to the success of his company.

As a Mum (to 2 munchkins under the age of 4 and a 3rd one on the way) and entrepreneur, it is imperative that my support network works. Without reliable domestic help (which we are fortunate to have because my helper is super), I would not be able to do a lot of things that I do today. My husband has a very demanding job too as a lawyer so we rely heavily on our support network (which includes our extended families too. Takes a village, and all that).

Lots of successful businessmen have their wives to stay home and look after the kids and all other home matters. That’s not the situation for me so I have to be highly creative and organised.

Today, I am thankful for my reliable helpers and employees, who, just by being great at their job, are helping me (more than they know) to achieve my dreams, goals, and and the life that I desire for myself and my family.

(Originally posted on lisechew.com on 7 December 2015)

The Cupcake Lawyer – My First Business While in Law School: Lise & Ebony

The biggest lesson was learning to trust myself, my creativity and my instincts. After that, hard work brought whatever I dreamed up into existence. And finally, the absolute belief in my products and the correct presentation brought it home for me.

I was still in law school and I decided I had to start making some money for myself.

This was at the cusp of the cupcake revolution (in Singapore at least) and they were the new in thing.

At the time I had just returned from Australia, fresh and full of creative ideas and this was the perfect outlet for it. I had lived off-campus while studying there and had gotten really good at hosting parties. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, dinners. I planned the menus, did the shopping, cooked up a storm and always ensured everything was appropriately presented and decorated.

The food had to be yummy delicious and satisfying. The decor had to be perfect. And everything was held together by warmth and heart. There was no half-past six nonsense presented at any of these gatherings.

Though it would get quite stressful mainly because I’m a stickler for every little detail, I enjoyed every moment of it.

It was through all that planning and dreaming up these events at my house that I found my love for beautiful things/creating beautiful things. I learned to trust my creative instincts and my gut.

To start my business off, I conjured up a short menu of desserts I was good at making to sell. Cupcakes with buttercream frosting, cream cheese frosting, chocolate frosting, chocolate cupcakes, THE bestselling Ebony Cake, carrot cake, tiramisu, and velvety dark chocolate truffles.

The next thing was the name. NAME. What to call my business?

I had been to Göteborg, Sweden when I was about 20 and my stepfather and mother brought me to Liseberg Amusement Park. (I hit all the amusement parks that trip. Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, Denmark’s Tivoli and Norway’s Tusenfryd. Nuts!). Anyway when we got to Liseberg, my stepdad told me that “Lise” is a variant of my name.

I didn’t really think much about it until I had to think about what to call my business and I thought it would be cute to include “Ebony” in my business.

Well who’s Ebony?

Ebony, was my trusty old black Honda Civic. I included her in the business name because she was the one who got me to places when I needed to make deliveries or set up at weddings. And yes, the Ebony cake is named after her.

So I brainstormed for names for awhile – Red & Ebony, Ebony’s Sweets blah blah… until I decided to use “Lise”. No hiding behind any other brand or even Ebony. This business was an expression of who I was at the time, and so I thought this was the best name.

I still needed a short description of what the business did but didn’t know how to phrase it. Bakery? Cake Artist? Cupcakes? Desserter?? (!!)  Nothing quite fit.  I decided to just let the question sit in my head while I got on with other preparations.

I was so excited to start this business and what made it even better was that I was gonna go to New York to visit my sister who was studying at NYU then. I would be visiting the famed Magnolia bakery (amazing energy and omg the banana pudding!), Serendipity cafe and all these other places New York has to offer that would be the sources of my inspiration.

And then it happened when we were standing outside one of the many froyo shops (I think it was Pinkberry).

I saw the word “artisan” on another shop and for some reason I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of using that word before. Dessert Artisan.

With that, everything fell into p l a c e.

Lise and Ebony Photogrid
Lise & Ebony Launch Party 2007

I had a little launch party and invited all my relatives and friends and I must say it was pretty successful. I meant for this to be a small homemaking business where I would bake/make chocolates to supplement my income and it worked out well. I made enough to cover my law books, buy new clothes and shoes and travel.

I didn’t know it yet but this experience would be a defining one. I learned so many practical business lessons that I would continue to use to this day.

The biggest lesson was learning to trust myself, my creativity and my instincts. After that, hard work brought whatever I dreamed up into existence. And finally, the absolute belief in my products and the correct presentation brought it home for me.

 

Years later, I’ve come full circle.

And I don’t know why but I’m thinking about Lee Kuan Yew and how he had decided that neither the Japanese nor the British had the right to push us around and that fuelled him to make Singapore into what it is today: Independent, prosperous and successful.

I am standing at the edge, looking at all my options, deciding.

I feel a certain rhythm in me and I’m waiting for

The.Right.Time.To.

Jump.

(Originally posted on lisechew.com on 9 June 2015)

Some Kinda Crazy

Crazy, is what it takes to slay the jabberwocky.

I am of the opinion, that to be a successful entrepreneur, you’ve got to embrace your Crazy. Yes, Crazy with a capital C.

Some people say entrepreneurs are creative, well they’re right, but they’re just being politically correct (and polite). After the last few years of running my own business, Crazy, is what it is.

Crazy, is what will take the business to the next level. Crazy, is what leads to thinking outside the box.

Crazy, is what it takes to slay the jabberwocky.

(Originally posted on lisechew.com on 8 April 2015).

Good Morning!

But, it hasn’t always been easy to wake up at 6am because, and I kid you not, my bed has magical powers that could lull any foul beast to sleep. That, and it’s not always easy to switch my brain on and shake the sleep off.

I haven’t always been a morning person.

In fact, I used to do my best work after 11pm, to like 2 or 3am because there’s nobody to bother me.

It’s quiet and the kids are asleep.

But it doesn’t make for good waking up habits and because of that my day would be thrown into disarray. I’m grumpy because I haven’t slept enough, and because of that I have less patience with everyone, and it just becomes a struggle to start the day.

I’ve also noticed that when I sleep late and wake up any time after 8.30am, I feel all groggy and underpowered, for the lack of a better word. And it takes me more time to recover from the late night and waking up later, which means time in the day is completely wasted.

So for the sake of the bigger picture, I decided to start my day early and go to bed at a reasonable hour. (I noticed that when I start at 6am, by 11pm I’m knocked out anyway.)

But, it hasn’t always been easy to wake up at 6am because, and I kid you not, my bed has magical powers that could lull any foul beast to sleep. That, and it’s not always easy to switch my brain on and shake the sleep off.

So after much experimentation, I’ve realised the only thing that helps is to do something I like right away to distract myself from going back to sleep. E.g. scrolling through Flipboard for interesting reads, or checking to see how many orders we got while I was sleeping to see if we hit our target, etc.

For some reason, after my brain moves into gear it’s a lot easier to get going to become Master & Commander of my day. As opposed to getting my ass kicked by it.

So I’ve slain this beast, it’s time for the next one.

Either you run the day or the day runs you.” – Jim Rohn