Supermamapreneur Sighting: Claire Chiang, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts Co-Founder

An original Supermamapreneur

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.

Claire Chiang and Lise Chew

 

Google her and you’ll find countless articles on who she is and the things she has done.

Claire has been at the forefront of many things, like being the first woman on the Council of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry and helping AWARE set up their helpline.

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.

I finally got to meet her at the Shirin Fozdar Programme Annual Lecture At The Frontlines of Change: Women Who Dared (By Dr. Noeleen Heyzer) last Friday. She invited all her mentees to this event and I must say it was thought provoking.

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.

 

 

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.