Manic (Mentor) Monday

Claire Chiang, Co-Founder of Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts

OMG.

I woke up to exciting news today!

Claire Chiang, Co-Founder of Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts is going to be my Mentor!

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I recently became a member of the Young Women’s Leadership Connection (“YWLC“) because I wanted to be connected to a network of women who want to make a difference and who are about something.

YWLC is committed to connecting, nurturing, and empowering young women leaders between the ages of 21 and 35 with the aptitude and attitude to lead and serve. (If you’re 35 when you join, you’ll still be able to be a member until you’re 40).

Besides their many awesome events (I got to see Annie Leibovitz live because of them! Read my post here.), they run a yearly prestigious Mentorship Programme where their members get the chance to be mentored by power women in Singapore. For example, Senior Ministers of State like Indranee Rajah and Josephine Teo, Managing Director of UBS Wealth Management Singapore, Christine Ong, Managing Director of IBM Singapore, Janet Ang, and of course entrepreneurs like Claire Chiang, Senior Vice President of Banyan Tree Holdings. The Mentor list goes on.

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Picture Credit: Banyan Tree

The Importance of Mentors

I’m a firm believer that the right mentors are important to help you get to where you want to go. Mentors who have achieved what you want to achieve and who can save you from costly mistakes before you make them. In short, because of their experience, the right mentors provide valuable shortcuts to your success.

The Importance of Someone Like Claire Chiang

As an entrepreneur, I meet and hear about a lot of big businessmen who are really successful, and they have happy families also. But right away I can’t help but think – BIG DEAL, because these businessmen weren’t the ones raising their families. More often than not, it’s because they had a wife who didn’t need to work who was at home looking after everything there.

And in terms of balancing raising a business and a family from a woman’s point of view, what these businessmen could teach me was limited. I don’t have a wife at home to raise my family. I am the wife. And so is Claire Chiang. She has a husband, 3 kids and a super successful business so she’s really someone I want to emulate. She’s an original Supermamapreneur!

I can’t wait to start learning from her. I’m beyond thrilled! Can you tell?

On a side note, I told my mother about getting Claire Chiang as a Mentor and apparently my mother knows her. They used to be neighbours and Claire Chiang is Hainanese also (I’m half!) and my mother used to play on their piano before they got their own.

OMG. This. shit. just. got. serious.

Throwback Thursday

Life With 2 Kids

Seemed like ages ago and I’m glad we had the chance to take this photo.

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I actually cancelled this shoot because I had been in the hospital 2 days before for a second pre-term labour scare. We thought the baby was arriving and I was kicking myself for not planning this shoot earlier in my pregnancy.

And since we decided that this would be our last baby, I wasn’t going to get anymore chances to take photos like this!

But it’s a good thing the contractions tapered off and I was allowed to go home the day before the shoot. That was a Friday. I managed to reinstate our appointment.

On Saturday, we took the photos.

And on Sunday night, I was back in the hospital again. 

Alexa was born in the early hours of Monday morning. 

Super timing 🙂

Happy Birthday Kaius!

I can’t believe he’s 4!

While watching The Lion King,

Husband to Kaius: “Kaius, a lion is a type of…?” (Expecting him to say “cat”).

Kaius: “Predator!”

Husband: *speechless but so proud*

Happy Birthday to our favourite 4 year old!

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Can’t believe this little boy is 4 already!

3 Hacks To Maintain a Positive Mindset While Sleep Deprived 

Empire Building When Grumpy Is Not A Good Idea

Life is only beautiful when you’ve had enough sleep good quality sleep.

This is not just about not sleeping well or not sleeping enough. It’s about not sleeping enough because you have to look after your infant at night.

When I say “look after” it’s not just plugging the baby to a bottle of milk and being done with it. This is your baby, so you’d put her first before everything else i.e. making sure she’s sleeping in the correct position, checking on her when she fusses in her bed (which can be multiple times throughout the night), staying up with her for an hour or 2 when she tries to go back to sleep but can’t, etc.

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Sleeping babies are the cutest.

(By the way, the sound of a crying baby and sleep deprivation are proven torture techniques.)

The net effect is I probably only get 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Even if I do get another 2 or 3 hours of sleep in addition to that, it is usually peppered with a night feed, baby soothing and checking on her.

And because you’re not sleeping well, falling sick is inevitable.

I am the worst at handling situations like this.

Everything becomes more prickly to handle. I am less patient and could care less about being understanding. My previously positive mindset and world view is automatically coloured and terribly negative. And when my mindset is negative, even the smallest challenge in my day can seem like a monumental task to overcome.

Then because I’m not at the top of my game, things don’t move as quickly as I want them to. And then I get frustrated and then I feel like giving up. And then I feel like telling people who tell me to slow down and smell the roses,”I already know what roses smell like! Next!”

You get the picture. I’m a grouch in such situations. Empire building while grumpy is not a good idea.

But what’s the solution to such madness?

Hack #1: Be Flexible

I’m a big list maker and planner, and for me to feel like I’ve achieved something meaningful, I would need to have accomplished tasks on the list within the stipulated deadline.

But I’ve learnt not to force it along according to plan because the end result is always a bigger mess than it was previously, if my mind is not in the right place. I need to be flexible.

Having a 3 month old baby is not something I can just gloss over and delegate at night for now. The consequences of this are big factors I need to take into consideration in all my lists and plans.

For example, instead of writing on my laptop, which is to me is easier, I have now mastered writing on my phone while I put the baby to sleep in the baby carrier. It’s a real time saver and I do love multi-tasking effectively.

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Putting the baby to sleep whilst preparing material for this site. I love technology!

Hack #2: Be Kind

I tend to forget how much energy it takes to look after an infant at night. This means me giving of myself, my sleep, my energy and my time. And that also means I need time to recharge and be kind to myself.

That is a tall order for someone who generally imposes exacting standards on herself. I don’t think there’s anyone tougher on me than me.

I’ve learnt that I need to step away and do something restful or rejuvenating first. Meditation. Exercise. Sleep. Get a massage. Go play golf. Look at things I like. Do something I like.

I have also realised that this recharging and being kind to myself thing is something I need to schedule in. Otherwise I will never have the stamina to go the distance that I want to.

Hack #3: Be Guilt-Free

Then the final thing is (and this is the toughest thing for me) to learn to stop feeling bad about these pit stops.

For this simple reason: I deserve these breaks.

I’ve learnt that feeling guilty and not taking any breaks for myself is just bad for business. I’m not as creative, I’m tired, I’m grouchy and I resent…well everything.

The application of these hacks might not be easy, but they are necessary. Let me know how they work out for you 🙂

Kitchen & Kids: Fig, Prosciutto & Mozzarella Pizza

So Easy Even My 3 Month Old Got Involved!

I don’t have time to cook as much as I would like these days but when I do I try to involve the kids so we have something to do together. Making food is one of my favourite weekend indulgences. It’s relaxing, and I’m always amazed at how many good business ideas I come up with while bustling around in the kitchen.

The kids always want to help and the great thing about pizza is it’s easy for them to do so. Also, it’s a good trick to get your kids to try something they otherwise wouldn’t eat. My kids love to eat what they have helped to make.

One weekend when I saw figs on sale at the supermarket (rare sighting in Singapore!) I knew I had to try making Lorraine Pascal’s Fig, Prosciutto and Mozzarella Pizza. It might sound a little huh?? at first, but I guarantee the combination is absolutely yummy! Salty prosciutto, contrasted with the sweetness of the figs. The creaminess of the buffalo mozzarella is cut by the slightly tart tomato sauce base. Top that with fresh basil leaves and you get an unbelievably aromatic experience.

It’s lovely to eat on its own but if you want to kick it up a notch, I like to pair this with a fruity Sauvignon Blanc. The fruitiness matches the figs and the crispness contrasts with the creaminess of the cheese.

It’s the ultimate lunchtime indulgence.

This recipe is super easy to follow and it has 2 parts. 1) Make the pizza dough 2) Top the pizza and cook.

Part 1) Making The Pizza Dough 

Ingredients

For the basic dough

  • 250g/9oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp fast-action dried yeast
  • 125–145ml/4½–5fl oz warm water
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling and drizzling

Method

Mix the flour, salt and yeast together in a large bowl and make a well in the middle. In a jug, mix the water and oil together, then pour the liquid into the well of the flour mixture and mix to make a soft but not sticky dough.

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Mixing flour, salt and yeast

 

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BABY HACK: What do you do when you need to get the dough done but the baby wants you to carry her too? Put her in the Manduca baby carrier for the win and get her involved too! This baby carrier is not cheap, but it is extremely worth it. It’s been a complete lifesaver for the hubby and me for all 3 of our kids.
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Mix it all up with water & oil
  • Knead for 10 minutes by hand on a lightly floured work surface or for five minutes in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Bring the dough together to a smooth flat ball and place on a large, lightly floured baking tray.

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My favourite – KitchenAid. What would I do without you?
  • Cover the pizza dough loosely with oiled clingfilm, making sure it is airtight. Leave in a warm but not hot place for 30–40 minutes.

TIP: If you have a mixer that has the hook attachment, I recommend that you use it to knead the dough. This is way less tiring and you can do other things whilst the mixer is kneading for you. But if you’re in need of some catharsis, kneading the dough by hand will do the trick.

Part 2) Topping The Pizza 

This is the part where it’s easy for the kids to help out with minimum mess.

Ingredients For the pizza topping

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The makings of a great tasting pizza – good quality ingredients.

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

  • Remove the clingfilm from the dough and roll out to a 30cm/12in circle to knock some air out, then prick holes all over the dough with a fork. Spread over the tomato purée, leaving a 2.5cm/1in border, followed by the mozzarella, prosciutto and half of the figs.

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    Spreading the puree: Older kids who are more in control of their fine motor skills will find this task easier.
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    Allegra helped too ❤
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    The little miss was happy to just look after she was done with the puree.
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    Ready for the oven!

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    Doesn’t it look yummy already?
  • Drizzle with oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, or until the bread is crisp and golden-brown and the cheese has melted. Scatter basil over the top and arrange the remaining figs on the pizza. Drizzle with oil.

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    I feel like I need to make this all over again now – num num!
  • Serve at the centre of the table so everyone can rip off their piece of Italian gold.

TIP: Be sure to use buffalo mozzarella or mozzarella balls. Don’t use regular grated mozzarella because it will be too salty and not at all creamy.

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They love it!
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All smiles 🙂