FabFriday: Dr Noeleen Heyzer – Women Who Dared

Social Scientist & Former UN Under Secretary-General.

I have taken many things in Singapore for granted.

And until last Friday, I wasn’t aware of the many things that were done for me by women who have gone before so that I didn’t have to fight for it.

Did you know polygamy for non-muslims was still legal in Singapore until 1961 when the Women’s Charter was passed? This meant that many women did not have fundamental rights prior to that. A lady named Shirin Fozdar was instrumental in pushing for such change in Singapore.

Before my mentor, Ms. Claire Chiang, invited me to attend the Inaugural Shirin Fozdar Programme Annual Lecture at the Singapore Management University, I had never heard of her. But now that I have, I wonder why they didn’t teach us about her in school!

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Ms. Claire Chiang giving her welcome address
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Q&A session moderated by SMU Provost Professor Lily Kong.
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From Left to Right: Ms. Claire Chiang, Mr. Ho Kwon Ping, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Professor Lily Kong and Professor Arnoud De Meyer, President of SMU.

The topic of the Annual Lecture was At The Frontlines of Change: Women Who Dared By Dr. Noeleen Heyzer. Dr. Hayzer is a Social Scientist and Former United Nations Under Secretary-General. She was the first woman

  • to serve as the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific; and
  • from outside North America to head the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) becoming its longest serving Executive Director for 13 years.

Her lecture highlighted the contributions of well-known women leaders around the world like Hillary Clinton, who could possibly be shattering one big glass ceiling in November, and local ladies like war heroine, Elizabeth Choy, and issues of inequality that women still face in parts of the world today.

Dr Noeleen Heyzer and Lise Chew

Lise Chew and Ho Kwon Ping
Me and Mr. Ho Kwon Ping, Co-Founder of Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts. He also sits on the Board of Trustees for SMU.
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Left to Right: Myself, war heroine Elizabeth Choy’s daughter, Bridget Choy, and some lovely ladies who went to St. Margaret’s too.

 

Claire Chiang and Lise Chew

Here are 3 points that resonated with me:

  1. “If you teach a woman to fish, she’ll not just learn how to fish, she will change the whole fishing industry.” – Dr. Noeleen Heyzer

  2. When asked what are the conditions we need to have in Singapore to have a female Prime Minister, Dr Heyzer said there need to be firstly more women on boards (only 9% in Singapore) and in Cabinet; and secondly, women will need the men to support them and push them into positions of power.
  3. For there to be any kind of sustainable change, everyone at all levels of society need to be stakeholders to push change forward. Whenever people use the word “stakeholders” I’m always a bit befuddled because why does it sound like a corporate governance lecture and nothing to do with me? But then I’ve realised that for anyone to truly care about anything, they need to have some skin in the game.

Hence. Thus. Therefore.

Girl Talk: Elim Chew, Singapore

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.

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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.

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#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.

Elim’s current businesses: 

Fast Fast Delivery (I tried it, it’s good and reasonably priced)

Goro-Goro: Korean Steamboat and Buffet

I’m Kim: Korean Barbecue

Kokomama: Korean Snow Ice (“Bingsu“)

 

 

Psst…

Here’s what’s to come!

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:

  1. Birthday FreakingAwesome Week
  2. 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:
    1. Celebrity, actress, businesswoman and Co-Founder of Galboss Asia, Andrea De Cruz;
    2. Beauty industry disrupter, Skin Inc Global Founder and Co-Founder of Galboss Asia, Sabrina Tan; and
    3. Founder of iconic streetwear brand, 77th Street and serial entrepreneur, Elim Chew.
  3. My first Meet & Greet at CRIB with Co-founders Tjin Lee and Mei Chee
  4. Meeting up with Bandwagon Founder, Clarence Chan.

Stay tuned!

 

3 Quick Ways to Nix Negativity

Positivity Management

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.

Weighed

down

in

it.

YUCK. 

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credit: dentrepreneur

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:

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Saved from: Pandawhale.com

“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.

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Breakfast With Billionaires – Sir Richard Branson

3 Lessons Learnt From The Ever Zany Billionaire Entrepreneur.

3 Lessons Learnt From The Ever Zany Billionaire Entrepreneur

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Lesson #1: Hiring & Managing Employees

When it comes to hiring, personality is so important. And sometimes having one or two people to be “a little bit off the wall” thrown into the mix would be highly beneficial.

He also believes in giving employees second chances. There was once an employee who was caught stealing records from one of his stores and he gave him a second chance. This employee turned out to be most loyal in the end and discovered Virgin’s most successful bands like Boy George, Culture Club and Genesis.

Lesson #2: Screw it, Just Do It!

Set yourself a seemingly impossible task and then strive to get there. If you just tumble along day after day, it may be good but not much fun. Set yourself new challenges to try and overcome.

Lesson #3: Life is More Fun When You Say, “Yes!” Than If You Say,”No.”

Richard has a big fear of saying no and regretting it later. He’s never regretted saying yes even when there are times he’s fallen flat on his face. Cue the bet he lost with Air Asia boss Tony Fernandez and had to dress up as a stewardess on Air Asia’s charity flight.

Music Monday

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.

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Suzuki Violin Class Performance

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.