MY BATTLE WITH LUXURY BRANDS
I’ve always had something against luxury brands. What’s worse is my opinion of women who just have to have them. Ironically, I’m surrounded by women who know and love their brands and I’ve judged them for it. In my opinion, the need to carry a Gucci, an LV, Hermes, Chanel bag or Dior without knowing the true value of the merchandise is shallow. It’s that need to show rather than to immensely enjoy the product which puts me off. What I look down upon even more are women who purchase these goods with money they didn’t even earn! My reason behind that is that these products are needs not wants and they are costly, so wasting someone else’s money on such things, is pretty shameless UNLESS he’s a millionaire whose made clear he wants you to spoil yourself with his credit card. I know it’s not my place to judge but who doesn’t? We’re all guilty of frowning upon another’s way of doing things. So this whole ‘Shallow, insecure women who need to be seen with their Prada’ is a Cassandra Rudge thing. I am aware there are exceptions to every rule. There are women who know exactly what these bags are made of, how long they will last, how much they really cost and make a very calculated purchase. They then use that bag or those pair of Louboutin shoes for a good 5years before deciding on their next big splurge.
I know the main cause of my ill opinion of ‘Little Miss Brand Lover’ stems from the culture I was born into; The Asian ‘face’ which is lost without that car, condo, credit card, cash and Chanel. It’s a culture in which status is everything and the more you have & spend, the higher up the social-class ranking you get and that counts for alot! Being seen as wealthy, well-traveled and cultured is an important priority hence the need for the shoes and bags to show for it.
I wish women could be sure of themselves without having to carry that Burberry bag. I wish they’d work on their confidence and not their accessories first. There’s nothing quite as sexy being able own who you are without the need for validation.
ZAMAIR IBRAHIM: AN ACTOR & MUCH MORE
Are you an actor, trainer, teacher?
I’m an actor.
Did you pursue acting or stumble upon it by accident?
I’ve loved acting ever since I watched TV shows and movies. The first movie I watched was a Bollywood film called Dil Wale Dulhania Le Jayenge starring Shah Rukh Khan. At that instant, I knew acting was for me and I was made for it.
Then, I pursued acting at my cousin’s wedding. His best friend was an actor from Suria. When I saw him reading scripts, I told him I was interested in acting. He offered to give my name to one of the directors at Suria. Soon, I got a call from the senior director and debuted as a doctor.
That’s how it all began. I remember not knowing where to stand and discovering that I had to be mic’d up. When the director told me to just act as a doctor and talk to the patient, I spoke in English knowing that my voice wouldn’t be recorded. I didn’t realise he could hear me! Thankfully, I made it and he called me in for more.
Were you also going to be a good actor?
Yes, I never doubted becoming a good actor. Many of us don’t believe we should pursue something we’re good in. Like I’m a good singer but I don’t pursue a singing career because I don’t believe I’m that good at singing. It’s better to not have doubts and just go for it.
I value time the most. Love, peace, discipline can be built over time. But the time is NOW to do something.
If I could have a super power, I would like to be teleported everywhere at one go and help many people. This is what I like to do – helping people. I feel fortunate to have so much that I want to dedicate myself to helping others.
With proper time management, life will be well-balanced. I want to spend time with my loved ones now, not when I’m old and retired. I also want to enjoy quality time in my prime.
What do you absolutely detest?
I hate rude people, they were never tolerated when I grew up. If I said something rude to anyone, objects would start flying in my direction immediately! In some cultures, you are taught to respect your elders, but I was taught to respect everyone, young and old.
If you could only make one of the following happen, which would it be and why?
- Help the poor with success and money
- Achieve global gender equality
- Turn damaged children into emotionally healthy, all rounded individuals
I choose the first one, help the poor. Last year, I started Reach Out Project to gather donations. With provisions from my father’s office, I packed the basic groceries a family would need for a month. My friends and I then drove around Tampines and donated the items to 30 needy families. We also gave each household a red packet. Some were sickly, elderly people with no financial means to get treatment.
If I had the fame and money, I would do all I can to get all interested parties to contribute more and grow the project. There’s just a lot of poverty right here at home, which so many of us are unaware of.
They can find out from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCSgCKgFBL0
How is someone smart, attractive and funny like you still single?
(Laughs) Like everyone, I have my preferences. But when it comes to the girl, I freeze! Instead of using my wit to make her laugh and get her interested, I ask her all the wrong questions and turn her away.
I also have a fair share of girls who are attracted to me, but I don’t toy with their feelings. Right now, being single doesn’t affect me in any way because a relationship would mean investing time in that special someone. I’m good spending time on all the things I have in my life right now.
What are your views on commitment and marriage?
Marriage is all about timing. When you are ready to commit, you are emotionally and financially stable. But marriage has become more of a joke these days. Couples splurge on their weddings and then split up. They could have saved all that money and enjoyed the marriage!
This is because money is important. Couples cannot stay happy if they run out of money. They must be able to take on all the responsibilities of a marriage before walking into one, and be able to withstand all the challenges that come their way. For that to happen, it must have the right timing.
I think looks play a part in everything, and it always helps to look the part.
I could say that my looks work for me because agents have found me through Instagram. Sometimes, my looks also work against me. Like when I’m dressed to kill with a group of friends. When I get all the attention, they get jealous and I have to deal with that too.
As far as acting goes, my mixed background works against me. For instance, some TV stations won’t take me because they want Malay looking actors. Some say I look Indian but I don’t sound Indian, so I don’t get the roles either.
If you could tell your 13 year old self something valuable, what would that be?
Firstly, lose weight and keep fit. Secondly, play, have more fun because you are still young. Everything is not about studies. Make more friends, learn how to interact with people. Although I was in the Express stream and didn’t do well in my studies, I would not go back and tell my 13 year old self to study harder.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Humorous, dedicated, passionate.
Tell us about the movie you’re working on?
It’s a drama called Verdict, based on the pro-bono services in Singapore. I’m playing a Bangladeshi construction worker who’s wrongly convicted, and had to learn Bengali in just three weeks! It really tested my acting when I had to emote in a language I didn’t understand. This is probably my most challenging role to date.
Did you identify with the character you played?
As an actor, I don’t combine the real me with the character I’m playing. Even if a character is very relatable, I see myself as the character I’m playing, and leave the real Zam behind.
What advice do you have for young aspiring actors?
Do your homework, read as much as you can, knock on many doors, work hard for what you want, accept rejection and keep going. With everything you do, you will learn something from it. Otherwise it is pointless.
If you could produce a movie, what would it be?
I would produce a movie about myself and get Shah Rukh Khan to play me (laughs)! It will show a side of myself the world never got the chance to see – my vulnerabilities, life challenges and sacrifices. It will also showcase the Reach Out Project.
Tell us your biggest challenges.
The biggest challenges are related to time. When I have too many jobs as an actor, I feel stressed that I can’t do it all. Because of this, I also have to sacrifice time with family and friends.
If I have a lot to do in a day, I will make it a point to show up, even if it is only for a short while. It’s not about how long I’m there for, but the presence that matters. Of course, there are times when I can’t be present and that’s something I can do very little about.
Despite the good and bad times, life is ultimately fair. It is about how we lead our lives that makes the difference. When life gets tough, we can change it. Instead of envying other people, just compete with yourself and be happy with the choices you make.
Copyedits by Q Communications
HUMAN BEINGS: WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO
While I wait for the next two features to be published here, I realized that sharing from my OWN experience could be a good idea. Hence from now on, I will share on experiences I feel that I have more than enough knowledge on, to do so.
One subject I proudly say I’m good at is Relationships; single, engaged, married, pre-divorce, post-divorce, I have walked through them ALL and come out stronger, clearer, humbler, braver, prettier (not shy) and healthier, just to name a few outcomes. And the reason this is the case, is because I’ve always been obsessed with the human psyche. I love getting to the bottom of why we are the way we are.
What makes a person tick? What causes us to feel pain, regret, joy, trust, fear, resentment, victory, pride, humiliation, envy? Why do we say the things we say, have the friends we have, go to the places we go, spend on what we spend? Well, from what I have been through and learnt, my understanding is that FEAR is the driving force beneath all other emotions.
Yes, fear. Fear is not a bad thing, but it’s not a good thing either, however it is inevitable. Why? Because we are only human. As human beings our basic need is to be loved. And because all we need is love, we say and do or don’t say and don’t do things which we believe will affect the amount of love we receive. Let me explain this as clearly as I possibly can. When we buy a pair of shoes, we are buying an identity, that identity brings about recognition, with recognition comes acceptance and with acceptance comes love or the illusion of it. If all human beings could live without love, that would mean a world without Fear.
Think about it logically. If we didn’t need love, we would not feel the need to pass someone a compliment, get our dream job, be seen wearing bags and clothes from the most coveted brands. We wouldn’t need to clear our name when it’s been tarnished or right a wrong. We wouldn’t need to say or do anything that works in our favour because we seek no love. That would make us apathetic specimens who think, feel and act purely for our own selfish gain. But realistically speaking, we can’t be that way even if we tried 24-7, 7 days a week, 12 months a year over 5 decades, because the bottom line is, we want to be loved. And this is a GOOD thing when it doesn’t stifle or cripple us.
Unfortunately, many of us are not aware that we are driven ultimately by fear. Most of us accept whatever emotion we feel as it presents itself. For instance, when we get embroiled in a family dispute, we automatically defend ourselves thinking that we are doing so because we are tough, stern, innocent, neutral or peace loving and all of this could well be true, but when we look at the ‘why’ behind our reaction, it is because those attributes about ourselves, that we guard so dearly, are the reason we gain the respect of our family members and when that respect is gone, so is the love.
Now that I’ve made clear why we are driven by fear, my message is NOT to stop needing and wanting love, but to know to what extent you need it and how low you would stop for it. You do not need love that is highly compromised, negotiable, conditional, temperamental and unpredictable. Unfortunately these types of love exist all over the place because the human race is so fearful. In one-sided friendships, strained marriages, in dysfunctional relationships between siblings and parents and extended family, we tend to accept any kind of love because we rather have some form of it than none at all. It’s the type of love that weakens us emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically. Because we feel a sense of obligation (nothing wrong with that), we feel compelled to accept what we like to think is love, even though we know is not. Most of you would argue that that’s life, but life is what we make of it. If we are suppressed by someone or something, we can always take steps to either change it or let it go. We are not powerless over anything we choose to receive. We are only powerless because we choose to be.
So take charge of your life and start making your own LOVE RULES. Know exactly the type of love you deserve, know how it should present itself in your life and permit only that love in your life and let it be your driving force instead of fear. Isn’t that what you want for yourself?
Kim the Career Woman
As I sat at the restaurant waiting for Kim, I knew at once who she was, even before eye contact was made. Unlike many successful, dynamic and altruistic women I knew, Kim Underhill has no airs. When she sat down and began to speak, I immediately felt at ease because of the humility and confidence she exuded. It became clear why Kim Underhill is a force to be reckoned with.
An abusive childhood
Within the first five minutes, I was intrigued and asked Kim where she got her disarmingly strong personality from. Without batting an eyelid, Kim said that it came from her mother. Unfortunately, Kim grew up with an abusive and unreliable father. That made her bear the brunt of the family’s financial difficulties from a very young age.
Due to these circumstances, Kim dropped out of school before obtaining the O Level certificate. Without basic certification, jobs were hard to come by. So Kim heeded a close friend’s advice to take up typing. Little did she foresee that typing would open many doors to a long and vibrant career.
Typing her way up the corporate ladder
Armed with typing skills, Kim got her first office job through an agency. Spotting her talent and hard work, the agency provided many temporary jobs. With more experience came more confidence. Kim was sure that they had seen her value and appreciated it. Finally, Kim was offered a permanent job when she exuded so much confidence as a receptionist. Due to a nosy and curious nature, Kim would volunteer to cover other duties when her Director was overseas. By getting involved in more than what was on her plate, simply because she has to know why and how things work, Kim quickly went from clerk to secretary.
Taking the job as a secretary was a huge risk for Kim. Unequipped with the required knowledge or skills, Kim took the chance as a daredevil. Describing the fear she felt on her first day, Kim only knew how to operate a typewriter and had to call a friend who sent a fax on all the functions of a PC. Because of Kim’s unrelenting ways, she managed to work for two years before getting married in another country.
Even when Kim was away, her efforts were far from forgotten. Kim acknowledges that being blessed with supportive people have helped in the upward climb of her career. Back in Singapore after two years, her former boss recommended that she worked for an English colleague as his personal assistant. This gave her career a big boost. Over time, she learnt a lot from him. He even pushed her to go back to school again by getting the company to sponsor her education.
Back to school
This started six years of night school for Kim where she successfully completed foundation, diploma and degree courses. With her new qualifications and ability to communicate well with people, she rose from Personal Assistant to Internal Customer Service Officer. This eventually led to a marketing position where Kim was very exposed to VIP customers and accounts.
Reflecting, Kim realized that going back to school helped fine-tuned her skills at work. It gave her the structure she lacked, while the exposure to solution-based learning taught her to work better with others. The degree gave her a clearly defined method of cultivating good rapport more effectively. This made Kim realize how useful a formal education could be, which motivated her to take up a Masters in Psychology – a study which helped compartmentalize her approach at work more effectively. This sharpened her strengths in seeing the big picture and soon, Kim was appointed Managing Director.
A challenging career climb
As a new member of the management team, this was one of Kim’s biggest challenges. When the person who hired her quit after six months into the job, this entirely changed her team’s dynamics. Kim was tasked with the difficulty of restructuring and turning things around within a short period of time.
Nevertheless, she approached this by personally meeting with every single staff member. Through informal discussions, Kim found out their views and gained useful insights as to what her employees wanted for the company and themselves. Another advantage was cutting out the middle man involved in the filtering process to someone at the top, like herself. In addition to a helicopter view, Kim got a holistic picture of the entire organization.
As such, Kim is very big on communicating honestly with her staff. She believes in being open-minded and flexible, but makes it very clear that integrity comes first. “If you tell me the truth I can lie better” is her motto at work, meaning the more staff lie, the harder it is for Kim to help them in times of need. Hence, Kim does not micro-manage. She trusts her staff to do their work and delivery is all that matters at the end of the day.
When it comes to her employees, Kim frequently asks if she is filling a need and ‘giving them the love’. She highlights that most employers have difficulty maintaining staff because they see them as a means to an end – just there to fulfil a set of duties. Nothing more, nothing less. This, she says, is a cardinal sin. Because most people want to be heard and want their potential to be tapped on, they almost never get either and hence do not develop loyalty.
Strength vs Passion
For the young, Kim encourages them to distinguish between strength and passion. As the two rarely co-exists, it is best to work on strengths while maintaining passion. While strength is a must to provide basic needs, passion is a necessity to give fulfillment. Should one decide to pursue only passion, be sure to test the water before diving fully into it. As passion itself might not give you the desired lifestyle, be very clear what steps can be taken in your career.
Kim also does not believe in selling oneself. She stress that selling a product or service, as opposed to selling oneself, are two very different things. When people try too hard to sell themselves, they lose their credibility. It becomes an issue about money, and no longer the passion.
Embarking on a new career
Kim asserts that the viewpoints and methods that she holds dear can help many people improve their work and personal lives. Now for the first time in her life, Kim is giving talks, writing guidebooks and empowering people at large.
Knowing that she does not have it in her to retire, Kim is now ready to embark on the next phase of her life – a retirement career. With the help of her newly engaged public relations company, Kim is busy organizing talks with NGOs in Singapore, such as Daughters of Tomorrow. Her primary goal is to help as many people as possible, and money is not an objective.
Looking ahead, Kim’s schedule is packed with interactive workshops for disadvantaged women who need help in achieving the ultimate balance in life.
To find out more about Ultimate Balance Consultancy, please contact Kim Underhill at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat.
This article has been copyedited by Q Communications.
For patients suffering from subluxation (the medical term which refers to a misalignment of the spine), Natural Healings practices a non-surgical, non-medicinal approach towards spinal correction.
There are three distinct curves in the spinal column. Most importantly, the spine connects the brain to every part of the body by sending signals through the spinal cord. These signals are transported to different nerve systems that cause bodily sensations like numbness, tingling, heat and so on.
Here at Natural Healings, we analyse the spine to see if there is adequate room for the nerves to avoid suppression, causing tension on them. This is done by looking for stress spots on the spine which changed its natural curves caused by bad trauma, postures and falls. This distorts the function between the brain and the body, which is not how it should be.
I spoke with Dr Micaiah Meuer of Nautral Healings, who furnished with the fundamentals of chiropractic practice. His thoroughness in explaining the holistic approach Natural Healings takes and his field of work, left me with no questions or doubts as to how effective this form of treatment is to prevent, as well as heal most of our physical ailments and lead the best quality of life.
How big a part does diet help in spinal health?
Diet has everything to do with nutrition for the spine. Often, patients walk away without knowing what they should eat which leads to inconsistent spinal care. In my professional capacity, I can do enough to get the spine back to where it needs to be. But more than anything else, patients must be proactive about maintaining a healthy diet.
How do you ensure that the public is well-informed about spinal health?
By offering patients seminar briefings every month and covering a different subject matter each time, we go through exactly what needs adjusting in their lives. From standing, seating and sleeping postures to exercise and diet, we try to cover every lifestyle aspect so no one leaves uncertain about what individuals can do to maintain the level of health required. Regardless of your age and gender, you can practise regular exercise and nutrition tailored to benefit the uniqueness of our bodies.
Is there anyone else in the health industry adopting your approach?
As far as we know, no one else in Asia has integrated musculoskeletal disciplines like Natural Healings. This is because we have in-house physiotherapists who are trained in the muscles and tendons, as well as rehabilitation methods associated with what we do. This can help patients retrain the muscles’ psychology and identify nerve patterns of every treated individual.
Together, how do chiropractors and physiotherapists help patients?
Chiropractors specialize in manually manipulating the nerve and bone connections in our bodies in order to restore spinal misalignment. On the other hand, physiotherapists help patients stabilize treatment areas by retraining and strengthening the muscles.
Both medical experts complement each other, which is ideal for optimum results at Natural Healings.
In what order do patients usually get treated at Natural Healings?
At Natural Healings, we first focus on mobility then stabilization.
To better illustrate, let’s look at the kinetic, or movement chain. If a patient has one leg shorter than the other, it’s typically not that he was born that way. It is because the pelvis, which moves every time we move, is really tight. So when ligaments and tendons around the bones get stuck, mobility then stabilization is needed to strengthen the pelvis. Similar to a building with weak structure, we get patients out of pain and help them maintain the new posture.
In another example, patients who go back and visit a health practitioner over and over again after getting acupuncture or TCM will always complain about a persistent ache because their structure is probably off. That’s a clear case of instability.
Furthermore, if we don’t have strong gluteal or core muscles to hold our postures, we will repeatedly experience pains from the amount of pressure we put on our spines. So we have to gauge where patients are on the spinal spectrum and associate that with different treatments.
For someone like me who suffers from fatigue and mild joint pain, how can I rectify that?
Joint pains can be rectified through classical conditioning, which is basically repetition. You can’t ever blame a joint for the pain because all they do is open and close. If you don’t stabilize your joints with weight bearing exercises, you will never have that overall stabilization.
In addition, bone growth is best assisted with weight bearing exercises, especially for women who tend to be osteoporotic in their later years. If you don’t put stress on the bones, they can’t get stronger. So retraining the process has to come into play. What I would do is give you simple exercises to be active in whatever capacity you want to be, which relieves joint pains.
What about fatigue, is there anything I can do in the ‘recovery’ process?
First, we encourage patients to start a food and energy journal to figure out a common theme, then start changing daily routines for at least two weeks. It could just be that blood sugar levels are going up and down. In your case, thyroid levels might be playing up. So you need to work around that through weight bearing exercises and dietary changes.
To highlight, all of us are somewhat susceptible to pains and low energy levels, hence diet is key. Because inflammation like external toxins and physical stress are so common, anti-inflammatory diets are essential for joint pains, especially fruits and vegetables with a lot of colour.
I also suffer from mild headaches occasionally, what would you say causes that?
It depends on what type of headaches you suffer from.
Migraines, or short bursting headaches, are hereditary-linked and typically triggered by caffeine and sugar levels.
Tension headaches are a different beast. They are caused by bad posture and stress which moves up to the neck, start to build up, and stay for a longer period.
If I were a first-time patient at Natural Healings, how will I be treated?
We would first see what your movement patterns look like from head to toe. This is done by taking a posture photo which is the window to your spine, and see how you are positioned. We will then make a recommendation for you based on the information we have. Sometimes, we might need more information like an X-ray.
If we find any stiffness, we will adjust them accordingly. This would result in your body having increased motion which it is not used to. Bear in mind that the lack of motion and nerve compression changes the way the brain functions with the rest of the body. So when we make adjustments, sometimes you get feelings like euphoria because the brain starts receiving more information when it starts connecting better with the body.
This is why every single professionally renowned athlete in the world has a chiropractor. Putting nerves back in place can help with heart, digestive and liver functions, which contributes to their overall sporting performance.
More information about Natural Healings found here: http://www.naturalhealings.com.sg/
This article was edited by Q Communications.
Meet the King of Empowerment
Ten Questions with Mr David King, Founder of Ministry of Empowerment (MOE)
1. Where did the courage to start Ministry of Empowerment (MOE) come from?
Multiple factors influenced my decision to start Ministry of Empowerment (MOE). It wasn’t just the guts to take a risk, my entrepreneurial spirit also made running my own company easier. I prefer to be in charge, so that I have the freedom to be myself and express my originality to the maximum. That is why I was encouraged to start MOE.
More importantly, my confidence grew when I began volunteering in a training company while I was a student at Singapore Management University (SMU). The company’s trainer mentored me and brought me to schools to share my story. The more I shared, the better I got. I also started to see how my story inspired parents and students alike. This in turn motivated me to become a professional motivational speaker.
2. How did you get MOE off the ground?
With hard work and perseverance, I was extremely committed to make MOE work, especially when it became obvious that a mainstream job was not an option due to my criminal records. As such, starting my own training company was the best fit.
Skeptical of starting my own company as a fresh graduate, I partnered an acquaintance. Then I realized that the business partnership has its shades of grey and several complications. The following year, I decided to fly solo.
Singlehandedly, I developed every aspect of the business despite facing strong competition from bigger players. As a one man show, it was depressing to manage everything from curriculums, training plans and workshops, to sales, marketing and administration. Stressed and discouraged, I wanted to give up. But my wife’s support made me persevere through the stormy times, and I will always be grateful for her undying love.
3. How did you get your foot through the school gates?
Because of my inspirational life story, secondary schools saw that I was well-positioned to help youths-at-risk through motivational coaching programmes. As such, I began targeting schools to boost my life and business. In a short span of four years, MOE is privileged to have worked with more than 10,000 students from schools in Singapore.
4. Describe your first experience as an entrepreneur.
There is so much joy in being an entrepreneur. Getting to do what I love with the liberty of improvising is priceless. I want ownership and I got exactly that from my business.
5. Four years on, do you still feel the joys of being an entrepreneur?Absolutely, owning and developing MOE is my passion and the joys are consistently growing, not fizzling out.
I am currently working on my own character development school, which hopefully can be as fun, creative, educational and successful as I want it to be. Crossing fingers that its operations will be smoothly in place by end 2015!
In addition, we hope that the company can help youths all over Asia in three years’ time, and in ten years’ time, all over the world.
6. What was your most rewarding experience as a motivational trainer and coach?
Two years ago, MOE delivered a programme at Fuchun Secondary School in Woodlands. At the beginning we experienced a lot of resistance. It was expensive to get to and there were only twelve students enrolled into the year-long programme.
The youths-at-risk from broken families were cold, aloof and uninterested. But when we shared our stories, they started opening up to us. That’s when we came up with our own MTV project for National Day, and our bond eventually grew stronger. Through the whole experience of shooting around the island, we mentored, guided and taught the students values. We grew really close.
On National Day, we were so looking forward to presenting our own MTV project, that when the school changed their minds at the last minute due to programme changes, we were utterly broken! Words could not describe how devastated we were.
Surprisingly, the kids comforted us. They told us it was ok, all that mattered was doing their best to make the video. Finally, we put it up on YouTube. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBBb7Et5eIQ.
When the programme ended, we brought the kids out for pizza to celebrate our success. To my surprise, they baked us the most delicious Oreo cheesecake and filled a journal with their entire journey, including a collage of photos they had taken of their experiences, and of images they took without us noticing.
I still have the journal and it reminds me of how this experience has touched our lives in such a big, meaningful way. We still keep in touch and remind them that we are always here for them. It was the best present any motivational trainer could ever receive
7. What are some common setbacks you faced in the training business?
MOE is always in need of a more committed team of trainers as well as better timelines from schools. Most projects we get are very last minute and we have to scout for trainers within short notice. Human beings being human beings, trainers could fall sick on the day of the programme or have unforeseen personal matters to attend to, and none of these are within my control.
Also, schools have a season for enrichment programmes. This means that we need more than 50 trainers at very specific times of the year, especially in the first week of January, one week before March holidays and one week before June holidays.
8. How does MOE’s programmes fill the learning gaps at schools?
Although we are mostly carrying out programmes which schools are already running, MOE’s special selling points include inspirational and passionate trainers who come with life stories and the heart to guide and change the lives of youths-at-risk; our unique methodology which makes classroom learning fun and fantastic; the use of psychometric profiling tools to help students find their purpose, aid goal setting and many more.
More importantly, MOE’s programmes help youths-at-risk find their purpose, which is the most meaningful aspect of our work. Through baby steps and setting smaller goals, we help them identify the big plan, then break down their goals into smaller bits to work with. Using our unique methodology and profiling tools, we let them discover their purpose as many are clueless about their lives and purpose.
9. If you had free reign, what would you like to bring into schools?
Schools shouldn’t just be avenues for students to acquire certificates in order to move forward in their careers. Closest to my heart is for every school to adopt a strong mentoring approach, which functions as supportive pillars for students. They need role models, not just teachers. It would be nice to focus on building close relationships between teachers and students, like having lunch together on certain days.
Instead of a single approach for all students, we should implement the Western practice of having teachers own the classroom. Without a doubt, teachers who make their classroom environment energetic and empowering can incentivize students’ learning retention more effectively.
When the teachers don’t own the classroom, they can’t adopt their own teaching methods in order to empower and energize the kids.
Ministry Of Empowerment’s team wants to INSPIRE youths-at-risk and people all over the world.
We want to EMPOWER youths-at-risk by coaching, motivating and training them to build their character, competence and confidence.
Ministry of Empowerment’s JOURNEY with them includes mentoring, guiding and celebrating with them as they grow from a seed to a mighty Oak tree.
This article was edited by Q Communications. Photos courtesy of Ministry of Empowerment (MOE).
Singapore’s Sassiest Matchmaker
The first question I asked Wendy Tse, Founder and Head Matchmaker of Society W, was, how did someone who clearly never needed any help getting a date end up starting her own matchmaking and date coaching business?
Wendy’s reply was as unexpected as it was spot-on. She said, “Everyone needs help in those areas.” As she explained why, I realized how much truth there was in her statement. We’ve all been guilty of turning to friends, family members, colleagues and whoever else was available at the time, to push us in the right direction. We sought recommendations and introductions in hopes of meeting ‘THE ONE’.
Call it whatever you may, but that’s matchmaking. This goes to show that at some point in our lives, we were all open to the idea of matchmaking as long as it did not involve paying a fee for services rendered. This is what Wendy referred to as the Asian stigma.
So how was Society W conceived?
It started as early as when Wendy was a teenager who found herself having a knack for understanding the emotional states of her friends and what they needed to say or do to find success with their love interest.
Described as a unique talent, Wendy nurtured her matchmaker instincts with lots of self-study till the time came for her to get ‘a real job’ in banking and finance. Although the money was great, Wendy enjoyed the relationships and emotional connections with clients more than collecting her paycheck.
Discontented dealing with just finances, Wendy sought her parents’ blessings to pursue psychology at Columbia University. There she found herself genuinely enjoying everything she was taught in class. And this was also when Wendy was exposed to the niche matchmaking industry in New York City.
When she got back to Singapore, the best thing Wendy did was not to rush into starting the business. With the help of her older sister, Wendy took baby steps to test the local market while working a full-time banking job. It was not long before referrals started streaming in and the inevitable happened; Wendy pursued her calling and Society W came into existence in 2011.
Society W’s approach towards matchmaking
Thanks to Wendy’s hard work, Society W runs on many important principles, which include reliability, integrity, likeability and initiative. It is not a matchmaking company which depends on algorithms to do the job.
Wendy prides herself in taking a very informed approach when it comes to meeting clients’ requirements. For example, clients who sign up for an Elite package are offered personal coaching sessions in which they’re helped with conversational skills, revamping their online dating profiles and more, depending on their needs.
What’s even more impressive is that Society W turns away people whose expectations they fear cannot be met. This level of integrity is something Wendy feels is crucial in her line of work because it involves trust. As she aptly puts, ‘Clients must trust me to do what I’m good at. This is my profession.’ However, she does admit that no matter how good she is at being a matchmaker, Wendy is not a magician. She cannot guarantee that two suitable candidates can have a life-long commitment between them.
As with most professions, Wendy faces her fair share of challenges, especially clients with unrealistic expectations or too much emotional baggage. To deal with such situations, Wendy gives suggestions to help improve their shortcomings, like counseling and keeping an open mind. She believes that with enough support and education, singles can find matches and increase their level of eligibility.
Wendy also shared with me that Singaporeans with big social lives stood a significantly higher chance of finding themselves a life partner, as opposed to those who much rather stay home, read a book and watch the news.
According to Wendy, there’s a large pool of eligible people on this tiny island who are not seen or heard of because they do not regularly mingle at parties like other Singaporeans. And for that group, she suggests they join suitable clubs or classes to meet their match.
Society W’s motto
Wendy believes that if you let life happen to you, nothing will happen for you. Hence her motto is to ‘get out there and start filling your life with activities you are passionate about and people you love.’
Wendy hopes to debunk that matchmaking is only for singles who are:
2. Socially awkward
3. Old & unattractive
4. Female, mega successful & aggressive
5. Having unrealistic expectations
Want to find your match? Do it with Society W. Log on to http://www.societyw.com.
Born and brought up in a multi cultural environment, Manisha Gandhi is half Mallu, half gujju, married into a UP family with two little girls. Manisha got married right after B school and as most of us, aspired to live the big corporate life. She worked for a couple of years but realised that it did not fulfil her. As she says, ‘The gujju blood in me dragged me into business.’ She started her own business when she was based out of Hong Kong. Being closer to China gave her the avenue and ability to source for products for big retailers in India. Manisha worked with a lot of big brands and retail chains in India before plunging into her passion – Oriental furniture.
Here’s what she has to share about her passion:
- What brought about the interest in oriental furniture? When did the love affair begin & how?
I am an ardent décor buff and my interest in décor and design and grown immensely over the years. I guess its in my blood. I get this from my mom and dad who have been collectors of colonial furniture, paintings and antiques for years. I started Oriental Living from my passion for Oriental antique furniture. It all started in 2007 when we moved to Hong Kong where I started collecting Oriental furniture for my own home which gradually then progressed to a commercial venture.
- What about oriental furniture do you like best as opposed to rustic or eclectic furniture?
Though I’m a fan of colonial and contemporary furniture too, there is something about oriental furniture that I fancy. It is influenced with clean lines, a sense of history, rich patinas and strong personalities, though created over time yet finds resonance in modernity as well.
- How long did it take you to start Oriental Living? What went into the start up?
After running a successful sourcing firm for several years, I chose to follow my passion for furniture. The process of individually selecting these exquisite pieces of furniture from different provinces in China and Tibet on basis of their originality and patination as well as the process of restoration, has taken more than a year. This involved a lot of research, travel combined with family holidays, learning about Oriental furniture, but the beginning has been great so far:)
- Who is your target market? Age group, gender, income bracket, nationality, profession etc
My endeavour is mostly to find a good home for these exquisite pieces of furniture. Oriental Living is for anyone seeking quality, beauty and inspiration – be it interior designers, architects, retailers and individuals.
- If there is one thing about oriental furniture you would love to people to know which most don’t, what would that be?
Each piece is handcrafted and hand finished with traditional techniques which makes it a statement piece of charm in ANY room. And Oriental Living is bringing these Handcrafted and Exquisite pieces of furniture to India.
- What type of home would oriental furniture sit best in?
Asian Oriental furniture is wonderful in any setting…modern, traditional, neutral, highly coloured…it looks fabulous everywhere
- If there were 3 words to describe the mood oriental furniture puts you in, what would those 3 words be?
Zen, Peace, Harmony
- Is it expensive to decorate your house with oriental furniture? How durable is it?
Oriental furniture of good quality is expensive all around the world. But at Oriental Living, we wish to make it more affordable. Majority of these pieces are made out of old elm wood, which is hardwood and durable and easy to maintain as well.
- What types of oriental furniture do you sell? How affordable are your pieces?
Well it’s a special piece at a very reasonable price. Oriental Living features an extraordinary range of pieces, from classic Horseshoe back chairs and colorful Chinese buffets to Ming dynasty style classic cabinets to blanket chests to antique with carved iron hardware. The majority of our antique furniture dates from the early 20th century, although some pieces are 18th & 19th century. A range of reproduction furniture is also available. And If you want to see even more, our website www.orientalliving.co.in will be live real soon.
- How do customers buy from you?
For all customers Pan India, orders can be placed online at the site www.orientalliving.co.in. Delivery is free for all customers across Pan India.For customers not in India, please write to me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know which piece you would be interested in and we will have it delivered to you.
- What are some exciting plans you have for your company Oriental furniture?
Well in 2 years time we are hoping to have retail stores across major cities in India so keep posted:)
Here are some pics to give you a taste of Oriental Living:
Meet Happy Bold Bernadine Reddy
I know Bernadine Reddy personally and this girl is on fire. Aside from having a bright personality, she definitely looks like a firecracker.
Bernie as her friends refer her to; knows what is needed and how to make things happen. She has been in the advertising industry for 15 years where she started in print advertising, she then moved on into digital, where she now runs her own media representation firm – Happy Bold Italic.
Happy Bold Italic started with 2 media owners, it now carries 10 in its portfolio. The firm represents online portals such as City Nomads, Honeycombers, CHOPE, Urban journey, The Smart Local, WTF, to name a few. Happy Bold Italic sources advertisers for their media owners and acts as the bridge between media owner and brands.
Having amassed the wealth of experience in the advertising industry, this homegrown hotshot aptly imparts her knowledge here on this blog.
So I decided to ask her a couple of questions, which she was more than willing to answer.
What’s a general misconception about advertising?
That consumers matter the least, many are surprised to know that a lot of marketing is done in silos. Most of the time marketers don’t listen or talk to consumers before deciding on what to proceed with.
Would you be able to break down which platforms work best for certain industries/brands and which are a complete waste of time? That’s really a grey area. I come from a very strong print background and for me, it still holds a soft spot but now that I focus on digital, I do realize that regardless of industry, digital channels when placed together the right way can give any brand an insight to what they previously were unaware.
In this day and age, what’s the best way to advertise your business/brand? Why?
That would be to identify with your target market – the clientele you want to reach; which age group/profession, income bracket, gender etc. By understanding the potential consumer, brands can really begin engaging with them on a deeper level.
What is the most difficult challenge you face when dealing with clients, bosses etc when it comes to the world of advertising?
Some clients want immediate results, which is not always possible. It takes time to win consumers over, especially if a brand/product is new.
If you could change the world of advertising would you change one or many things about it?
I want media owners to know their worth – as media owners devalue their product by slashing their rates; it a chain reaction that affects many marketers. This is especially sad when I come across great written or hard work that has had less that what it deserves
I want media owners to know their worth – as media owners devalue their product by slashing their rates; it a chain reaction that affects many marketers. This is especially sad when I come across great written or hard work that has had less that what it deserves
Can you teach us some advertising lingo most frequently used?
- KPI: Key Performance Indicators
- ROI: Return on Investment
- TA: Target Audience
- HTML: Hyper Text Markup Language
Give us some industry secrets
- Build a good rapport with your clients
- Understand what drives a client’s business and not just the one-off assignment
- Understand the client’s consumer
- Show that you care in the business and not just their advertising dollars
- Follow up with them and learn to listen to their needs.
Check out Happy Bold Italic here (http://www.happybolditalic.com/).
Q Communications – A Quality Execution Brand
Disciplined, enlightened, hopeful were three words I used to describe ShuQi, a highly driven 26 year old founder of Q Communications, an independent branding and communications boutique agency which could very well be the next Ogilvy.
Why do I think so? Where do I even begin? Let’s start with her good taste.
ShuQi picked Wheeler’s Yard café in Balestier for our meeting and I have to admit feeling a little apprehensive at first because it rested in a warehouse in Lorong Ampas. But when I got there…WOW!!! This is the kind of place you bring your first date to if you want to set yourself apart from the rest and she did just that.
I was impressed even before getting to know ShuQi. She greeted me with a warm hug and offered to buy coffee before we got down to business. None of this was for any reason other than the fact that ShuQi is a nice person who cares about people, a quality which became increasingly apparent the more we spoke.
What I loved most about ShuQi was her honesty. She shared openly about her transformation from being caught up in the rat race to wanting to educate rats about the changing race.
For four years, the move to Melbourne, in pursuit of a degree at Monash University, changed her perspective on many things. There she went to Lagos, Nigeria for a two month corporate social responsibility internship, as well as Italy to study Italian for six weeks. Yes, I was as envious as I was fascinated with the experiences she had amassed at such a young age! And this was where the notion to dream big was conceived.
These activities were so inspiring that it resulted in ShuQi becoming the only international student on the student council. There, she helped her peers from all nationalities make friends and learn from each other instead of staying isolated and divided in their own ‘cultural bubbles’. Her ability to rally large groups of people led to her becoming the voice for the international student body.
But as with most Singaporeans, filial piety set in and she moved back home, only to find herself caught up in the rat race, which didn’t work out too well because ShuQi was no rat. In her own words, she felt that ‘the need to fit in and feel the same way as everyone else was unhealthy and brought about unnecessary competition’.
So she handed in her last resignation letter. The silver lining of being in the rat race was that it helped her identify gaps in the system which required a more sustainable way for people to achieve their desired outcome at a fair price. Hence the birth of Q Communications – A Quality Execution brand.
ShuQi is confident that her passion and knack for branding and communications will bring Q Communications to great heights.
Her tips on branding and communications:
- Use broadcast media to get things out. Radio, TV, YouTube videos are always great.
- Print Media is good too.
- Social Media is iffy because it has become a very promotional tool involving too much ‘in-your-face’ advertising.
- On the other hand, a blog offers a softer, better approach through storytelling.
- Always find out where the client wants to be seen and in what timeframe they plan to get there.
- Also find out who the client is or help them find out who they are before presenting targeted marketing ideas.
Want more tips from ShuQi? Email her at email@example.com
You may also wish to view her LinkedIn profile at http://sg.linkedin.com/in/sliu51 as Q Communications has deliberately chosen not to have a website.