If you have ever Mr. Lim Siong Guan, you’d be staggered by his *amazing* CV. Click here for his wikipedia page. I got to interview this figurative giant of a man during one of our Intelligent Millionaire Network meetings and I have to say he didn’t disappoint.
It was great to hear insights from someone who used to work closely with the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and to see the world from his perspective, given his vast experience as the top man in verybigcorporations.
Here are 3 videos, enjoy!
Video 1: How To Manage Energy & Overcoming Biggest Challenges
Video 2: Quick Tips on How to 1) Establish Rapport with People 2) Quickly Gain Insights on Where an Organisation is and 3) Implement Changes
Video 3: Keys to Success for Business and Personal Development
When you meet Claire, you know right away that you’ve met a Woman of Substance.
And it’s not because of her many awards or that she is the better half of one of Singapore’s high profile power couples.
Claire possess what many people don’t: a fire-in-the-belly type of passion for what she believes in, a presence that will make you sit up and pay attention (you’ll know she has arrived when she walks into a room) and a contagious, fun energy – the kind of energy that only comes with being truly interested and wholehearted about what she is doing in and with her life.
Google her and you’ll find countless articles on who she is and the things she has done.
She’s married. Has 3 kids. Was former Nominated Member of Parliament. Her World Magazine’s Woman Of The Year 1999. Amongst many other things. Business. She is by all counts an original Supermamapreneur.
One of her businesses is Banyan Tree Gallery, which retails art from indigenous artists and Asian botanical blends. The idea behind this business was to retail items to empower local communities and their trades. I thought this was an excellent idea, given their already established platform that is Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts.
Claire speaks with conviction and it is clear she is an ambitious woman.
And when she pulled all 4 of her mentees in for a photograph with Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, she said to us, “You better be on stage in 15 years!” She’s even ambitious for us.
When I went up to her and introduced myself, she received me with a warmth and enthusiasm that I didn’t expect. And when I mentioned that my mother used to be her neighbour, and when she realised who it was, she started speaking to me in Hainanese like I was long lost family.
I am so very lucky to have her as my mentor and I’m looking forward to learning from her.
I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Sabrina Tan at Galboss Asia. She shared her experience with growing her local custom skin care company, Skin Inc, into a global brand. It is now in over 100 cities around the world through skin care and make up juggernaut, Sephora.
I had heard about her success before meeting her through various business associates. And since I’m in the skin care industry too, I was very curious at how she did it.
Kudos, by the way to the Galboss Asia people who scheduled her sharing right after lunch. That was a good way to keep people awake! I’m sure there was no one sleeping since it was such an interesting and inspiring sharing.
I was particularly fascinated with her story because when she was building her business, she was also raising her family. Her youngest kid was only 1 when she started. I can most certainly relate to that. It is somewhat comforting also to hear that she had many challenges too before this huge success.
Having met her and if I had to describe her in 2 words, I would use the colloquail term “chilli padi“.
For my non-Singaporean readers, a chilli padi is a chili pepper otherwise known as Bird’s Eye chilli. It is small, but extremely potent and spicy. One small bite of this chilli will send an overwhelming explosion of flavour into your mouth, and it can be so spicy that it’ll make your ears hurt, I kid you not!
In that same thread, don’t be fooled by her petite frame. She is a force to be reckoned with.
These are the questions I asked her when I got the chance to chat with her:
How did you juggle your business and your family?
What were your biggest challenges in business and how did you overcome then?
What was your inspiration for Galboss Asia?
Great insights, no?
I also asked her this one last question off-camera,”The skin care industry is so competitive. Weren’t you afraid?” She just looked at me with steely determination and shook her head as she said,”No. Don’t even think about that.”
Found of Iconic Streetwear Brand 77th Street and Serial Entrepreneur.
Recently, I had the chance to meet and interview Elim Chew, Founder of iconic streetwear brand 77th Street and serial entrepreneur. She was a panelist at Galboss Asia and shared her insights on being an entrepreneur.
Y’know having hung around the 77th Street stores in Far East Plaza as a teenager (uh-huh, I have the ear piercings to prove it), I’ve long heard hallowed whispers of her name. The boss of 77th Street is a lady, people would say. And her name is Elim Chew.
So when I finally got to meet her in person at Galboss Asia, it was a real treat. What struck me most about her was her easy manner and warm smile.
Here are 3 things she shared which stuck with me:
#1: People, People, People
It’s easy to start a business, but difficult to manage. As an entrepreneur, you need to be a good boss, then your heart and vision for the company can shine through. This is when your people will go all the way and guard and run your business for you. She has had staff who have been with her for 20 years.
#2: The Importance of Giving Back
Elim shared how she made her first $50,000 and then gave it all away to her church when it was raising funds to build churches in India because she felt it was the right thing to do. That money went into building 6 churches in India. A few years later, there was a terrible earthquake and those 6 churches were the only buildings that stood strong, so they were used as rescue centres.
This just goes to show you never know how far-reaching the consequences of your actions can be.
#3 We Must Be Driven By Purpose
“Driven By Purpose” is actually the title of her book and I couldn’t agree more with this statement.
The “how” of finding your purpose is the tricky part to me, but that’s another story for another time.
Watch her video for more of Elim Chew: Life after 77th Street, her new book and TV Channel and her biggest challenges in business.
Y’know things happen in my life a lot faster than I can write. Plus, it was Birthday Week a few weeks ago, so I’ve been a little drunk on too much Moscato D’Asti. (I have not found a Champagne that I would drink over Moscato D’Asti. Though I do appreciate the different purpose of these 2 beverages. And yes the “D’Asti” is important. A moscato without “D’Asti” is N’Asti. And now I bet you won’t ever forget that I said this LOL.)
Anyway, here’s a summary of what I’ll be posting in the next few days, not necessarily in this order:
Birthday FreakingAwesome Week
Galboss Asia where I met and learned from the best. It was also held on my birthday so that was super! Look out for interviews with:
Celebrity, actress, businesswoman and Co-Founder of Galboss Asia, Andrea De Cruz;
Beauty industry disrupter, Skin Inc Global Founder and Co-Founder of Galboss Asia, Sabrina Tan; and
Founder of iconic streetwear brand, 77th Street and serial entrepreneur, Elim Chew.
My first Meet & Greet at CRIB with Co-founders Tjin Lee and Mei Chee
Y’know how sometimes you’re minding your own business, just going about your day and then somehow, someone decides to heap a pile of negativity on you?
Whether it is intentional or not is besides the point. It might be that they needed to discuss something with you, or they used you as a sounding board, or they were just complaining or commenting about something.
After they are done, you just feel like someone let the air out of your previously light hearted and positive disposition. And then you feel like you’re covered in someone’s shit.
When I didn’t know any better, I would just take everything in and then wonder why I feel terrible later. I’ve since realised that it is so important to protect myself and find a way to deflect such negativity instead of taking it in. Otherwise my day is disrupted and the person who suffers is me.
Here are 3 fuss-free ways that work for me when I need to get rid of negativity to have more constructive and meaningful days:
#1: Body Boost: Exercise
Although it might seem like a lot of effort when I’m in the middle of work, I’ve really found exercise to be worth the trouble. It doesn’t even have to be a full-on work out. It can just be walking very quickly around a shopping mall, or doing jumping jacks for 5 minutes.
To quote Elle Woods in Legally Blonde:
“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.”
Or kill anyone else, for that matter.
#2: Beats: Listen To Music You Like (& Dance It Out!)
Currently, I love The Koi Boys. I can’t enjoy music and be negative at the same time. Music has always been a soothing balm for me. Just 5 or 10 minutes with my headphones and I’ll be good as new.
#3: Breathe: Good Stuff In, Bad Stuff Out
Smell affects me very much. What I like to do is get a cup of coffee, or some deliciously aromatic tea (depending on what’s available) and sit somewhere calming with it for 4 or 5 minutes.
An alternative is breathing in lavender oil or any other oils that I like and/or have with me.
The simple act of breathing in the good smells and breathing out is a real quick pick-me-up.
Taking 11,000 child prostitutes off the streets of the U.S.
As a continuation from my previous post How To Break The Ceiling & Touch The Sky, One of the amazing women Mr. Anthony Rose has interviewed for his book Break The Ceiling Touch The Sky is Dr. Lois Lee. She has helped to take 11,000 child prostitutes off the streets of the U.S. Watch the video to find out how she did it.
This book has also evolved into an international summit of the same name. Its speakers feature senior executives from multinational corporations like Coca Cola, Walmart, Burberry, Kellogg, Spotify and so on. With opportunities to network with them and other business people, and a chance to learn from the best on how to be the best, it promises to be an amazing event!
Break The Ceiling Touch The Sky Summit details:
Venue: Shangri-La Hotel Singapore
Date: 29 August 2016, Monday
Time: 8.30am to 6pm
Ticket price: from $429.
To register, click here. By the way, I have 1 more ticket at my table going for $389. If you’re interested please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Besides what’s in the news, little is known of the people behind Phoon Huat. This is a peek into what it was like for me growing up with the business and the stories that I’ve heard.
My grandfather, Wong Chen Keng, came to Singapore in 1940 when he was 4 years old from Hainan Island to join his father, Wong Tai Fuang. He travelled with his mother and older brother by Chinese junk boat.
In those days, the conditions on the boat were far from sanitary and disease spread quickly. My grandfather fell seriously ill and nearly died.
But as good fortune would have it, my grandfather survived.
Phoon Huat would have been a very different company if he didn’t for he was the one who developed Redman flavoured concentrates that gained popularity in the 60s and 70s.
When I was in kindergarten, we had a Redman factory in Aljunied. My grandmother used to pick my sisters and I up from school and bring us there for the afternoon. As we ate lunch my grandmother packed, we would watch the factory churn out glass bottles containing concentrate in psychedelic colours. Pink, orange, red, green, yellow vials of concentrate would twirl around with timed precision as they were filled, labelled and capped by machine. The aroma of syrupy sweetness always hung in the air. I remember sitting at the supervisor’s desk, watching the finished bottles of concentrate arriving in a circular space at the end of the production line. 2 factory workers would then pack the bottles into boxes of 10, smear industrial glue on the flaps and close the boxes. Sometimes when the circular space got too full too fast, or if the factory worker who was packing was careless, glass bottles breaking were not uncommon. We did try to pack these boxes because we wanted to help but the glass bottles were quite heavy, and we were quite short and couldn’t quite reach the boxes comfortably.
If we were sleepy, we would nap on the boxes that were already packed and waiting to be shipped out. Of course, as kids, we sometimes got up to mischief when we had nothing to do or we were tired of our Carebears sticker book. More than once, one of us would push the emergency button and all machinery would come to an abrupt halt. I don’t remember being scolded for it but the factory workers were none too pleased.
Besides Redman concentrates, grandfather also successfully reverse engineered the recipe for the ever-so-popular Konnyaku jelly that Phoon Huat has sold in little blue packets since the 90s. As kids, we were always happy to be guinea pigs for him to test out the different versions of the Konnyaku jelly on. “Too chewy like chewing gum!” “Not chewy enough, it’s like agar agar*!” “Not sweet enough!” “Why no flavour?” He took our feedback seriously and would tweak the recipe accordingly. Every week, when we visited the grandparents for our weekly family lunches, we would have a different batch of Konnyaku jelly to try until he got the recipe right.
Other than these experiences, I remember Redman lorries delivering boxes and boxes of stock to our house for repacking. My grandmother would work tirelessly and we’d help too.
Growing up in a business family, I was given the privilege to watch first hand what it took to build successful businesses. I inevitably learned many business lessons by just sitting through family dinners. I had the front row seat to watching our family go through the highs of achieving great success and the lows of terrible heartbreak. Such is the nature of business. Such is the nature of life.
The heartbreaks were one of the reasons why I chose to become a lawyer. I thought I could insulate myself from disappointment and tragedy, take home a stable income and live a relatively comfortable life.
But it also meant not becoming who I was meant to be.
For someone who effortlessly sold 2 lipsticks to her principal while in kindergarten and who wanted to make cassette tapes of her father’s music (yeah, he wrote songs too) to sell when she found out he wrote songs, I would be denying a very natural and important part of me.
This family business has shaped me more than I know.
*Agar agar is a local term that refers to a gelatinous dessert with a more crunchy (as opposed to a more chewy) texture.
Part of the highest & truest expression of myself.
I have grown up with music.
And I’m not talking about the occasional piano lesson here and a ballet lesson there.
I’m talking about intense immersion in music.
My mother was a piano teacher. I started learning at 3 years old. My dad plays the guitar insanely well (Hotel California? Peanuts.).
I play the piano, drums and a bit of guitar. I also learned the violin when I was very little. I went for ballet lessons, tap dancing lessons and even Chinese dancing lessons.
I composed music, wrote songs, and sang.
When I used to go to church, I was a worship leader. I choreographed hip hop dances too. A friend of mine remarked before that if I didn’t have music in my life it would be like chopping off my right arm.
When I stopped going to church, the music stopped too because I associated it very much with a religion that I could not relate to anymore. This was an extremely agonising decision since it meant changing an enormous part of my life and routine.
But I maintained the belief in spirituality and a Higher Power that doesn’t necessarily have to be a deity.
I’ve since realised (even though it took me some years) that even apart from religion, music centres me. It relaxes me and helps me find my groove, so to speak. When I need inspiration in a hurry, the quickest way to get there is by listening to something I find creative or that I like. When I need to get into The Zone, there’s always my Fight Song Of The Day. When I need some comfort, there is always Debussy’s positively hypnotic Claire de Lune.
There is just something about music that I connect deeply with and I cannot deny if I want to be able to fully embrace and express who I am. Maybe because of my upbringing. Maybe because that’s just the way I’m put together.
But I know that when I include music in my processes, I am able to do my best work in business and with my family because it is inextricably linked to my highest and truest expression of myself.