Things That Make Me Come Alive 

Flowers.

Work.

Friends.

Puppy.

Be mindful of what you love. And surround yourself all the time with them. That’s my secret to staying calm.

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I Am No Boss.

 

By virtue of International Women’s Day, we have celebrated our fair share of female bosses and the empowerment of women in the month of March. I was approached by several marketing managers to front their campaigns as a woman in power, or #GirlBoss, as they called it. I was flattered, but turned them all down, politely and humbly. The reason is simple: I am not a boss. I work for an organization. I work for my boss. My boss (Ms Jessie Sng, Head of Women, Men, and Parenting) is the boss you should look out for instead. And she works for her boss. And her boss is the CEO of Mediacorp. You get the gist.

In a sea of inspiring women, some of whom I am in absolute awe of, I am a nobody. Rather, I’ve been working towards my goal of becoming someone respectable like them one day. But I am nowhere near yet, and it is too premature to pat myself on the back over a few minor successes.

However, as with all constructive online publications, I would like to share three things I do care about as the Head of styleXstyle. And if there is anything here that resonates with you, I will be heartened.

1. PROFITABILITY

It sounds romantic to pursue one’s passion and to become the “masters of our own destiny”. However, a business cannot lose money for too long. It is as simple as ABC. How else can I pay my  staff who slog day and night with me? How do I pay myself? How do I pay for office rental, electricity, overheads, and all other running costs and burn-rate? I am not a well-to-do #girlboss working from the comfort of my balcony, writing about the things I love, with or without a viable business plan. That’s an ideal lifestyle even I dream about from time to time. Alas, it takes good contribution margined- P&Ls to realize all the fabulous plans you have for yourselves, and your society. You want to be able to give back. Not indulge.

2. EMPOWERMENT AND GROWTH

The watchword: succession planning. I want to build a business that will last even after I am gone. And the only way to achieve that is to groom and nurture right-hand men who will and who must eventually take over the reign. However, it is easier said than done. Like most mediocre leaders, I tend to micro-manage and breathe down my staff’s neck. Nothing seems to be good enough for me. I am tough and have often made unpopular decisions. In recent months, however, I have learnt to “hire well, manage little”. Empowerment is a win-win. And watching your colleagues grow and flourish is a beautiful experience.

3. PLAY

There were times when I have dreaded going to work. It was so bad, I would lay in bed depressed on Sunday nights, wallowing in self-pity and praying for strength to persevere. The office environment was hostile then, and there was a lack of effective communication. There was just too much gossiping, and colleagues did not see eye-to-eye. It does not take rocket science to gather it must have been awful for everyone. As a leader, I bear full responsibility for such outcomes. And I have come to realize that work will always have its rough times. However, it does not need to be miserable.  It can be challenging AND flexible. It can be serious, with sudden bursts of infectious laughter. A fun, free and constructive atmosphere, where work and play comes hand-in-hand will yield better results, or any results, for that matter. And now, I jump out of bed to start each day, because I know I am on my way to play.

 

There you go. Pursue your passion and live your life. And do it with kindness, generosity, and good vibes. You will be fine.

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Agree To Disagree

Where are the voices of intelligent dissent? We should learn to convey our differences in opinions in a calm and collected manner. I enjoy the beauty of a well-articulated debate, of intellect and fact. Unless it is life-and death, I think everyone should chill. Find your own life priorities and cling on to it.

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Celebrate Excellence. Not Mediocrity

To me, there is no man or woman, only intelligence and influence. We should simply strive to BE ONE.  Be one who exudes grace, kindness and humour.

As I grow older and more confident, I like less and less to be defined by my gender, or for that matter, marital status.  “Do not ask me who I am and do not ask me to remain the same… Let us leave it to our bureaucrats and our police to see that our papers are in order,” Foucault reflects in The Archaeology of Knowledge.

Indeed there are many ways in life to experiment, to create or to discover oneself. What is crucial is to lift off the blinkers of unconscious existence and overload of social media to see once again the newness of the world. I cannot wait to explore, in reckless abandonment, what it means to be a survivor in this 21st century.

If being mad means holding on to one’s particularity, I would most gladly drown myself in melancholy. At times, the pain of being misunderstood can be too hard to bear, and the silent insistent poison of loneliness keeps me awake at night, wallowing in self-pity.

At times my ideals are overshadowed by the ugliness of reality, and giving up seems the only way out of all that chaos. Nonetheless I love life with a fierce passion. I continue to be so deliriously in love with life that I never cease to question, to argue, to seek, to spread the word, to write the truth and to dream my vision of the perfect world.

I have often stood before an unsympathetic and cruel crowd who, not listening, have been ever ready to cast stones of condemnation as I remain unwavering in my ideas. I am certain the depth of the disappointment has been mutual.

Like all love stories, expectations and promises have remained unfulfilled, and the vulnerable heart has been broken. I remain pessimistic and doubt I will ever be truly satisfied with the conditions of life, but that does not mean I cannot love it. I love life for all the freedom it brings, despite its lack of meaning and purpose.

Life and and all its imperfections are what make us human and delightful. Perfection is mundane. Imperfection can be as beautiful as it is painful.

These are some of the “imperfect”  people I love who are leading the way. When I look at these formidable six, I remind myself not to celebrate mediocrity, but excellence.

Power Women 4

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Find Your Steel

When I was 19, a fortune-teller told me I would be a businessman when I grew old. I laughed in his face and replied “that’s why I never believed in fortune-telling you are hilarious. I only want to be an artiste. Always and forever.” If you are reading this uncle please know that I am sorry. Your prediction was spot on.


  

One more year to go. Enjoying the ride so much I do not want this to end. 21 years of service including my stint overseas. My friends did warn me that I would get too emotionally attached to places. Well I thought: “what you call chaos I call opportunity”–no need to search any further cos I found me. #LastYearToKickSomeAss #回忆总是美

VIBES cafe #styleXstyle opening soon at 1 Stars Avenue #03-01 Media Gallery. See you there.

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Before I Die 

Hello 2016. Sorry I am late. I am barely catching my breath everything is zooming by too fast. I don’t want to die yet. There is so much more of the world I’ve yet to explore. I am just beginning to embrace being happy in my own skin. What a waste if we have to say goodbye so soon, no?

I am not being morbid God forbid. Just wanna be realistic for once. We are but merely mortals.

Fill every page of the year with joy, that’s my new year resolution. Take nothing for granted, not even the most frustrating moments, for those are exactly the moments that are character-building. What doesn’t kill you makes you gayer.


  
  

Eat everything, travel the world, start a family, go to South Africa, be sober sky-diving…what do you want to do before you die?

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Thank You, But No.

Life, is not just about what you stand for, but also what you are against.
I am for courage to pursue one’s own dream. I am for kindness and generosity in helping others achieve their goals.
I am against smearing, lampooning and hurting others. Period. It doesn’t end does it? This cycle of hate and irresponsible gossip. Let’s not pretend to be objective when there is no objectivity. We are real people, when you hurt us we actually do bleed. There is no reason good enough to justify such human behaviour.

For public figures some argue that there is no such thing as privacy, and I have no rebuttal for that, whether that hypothesis is fair or not. In fact I am inclined to agree. But I am not asking for privacy here, I am merely asking for decency.

Well, reaction is easy, understanding is hard. It’s all about the optics anyway. Who looks better, richer, happier. It’s gotten so easy to flaunt, that our empty lives could get away looking well-travelled and fulfilled.

I have fought a few battles in my short 40 years of life, and I must admit, sometimes losing was a relief. Sometimes taking a sabbatical break from the race turned out to be the best decision. And yes, sometimes, saying “thank you, but no” is as cathartic as crying.

It’s never over.

But life is too short to get mad.

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(photo credit http://www.styleXstyle.com styled by Daniel Goh)

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