Guest Post: 10 Reasons Why I Loved the Asia Fashion Summit 2014

[Grace: This is a guest post by Kirbie Koh, who blogs at ilovemycreditcard.com. She attended the AFS on my behalf when I was away]

Asia Fashion Summit 2014

I was lucky to be able to attend The Asia Fashion Summit (AFS) 2014 on 15-17 May 2014, thanks to Grace who gave me her 2 seats as she is not in Singapore. (The two seats cost almost $1,000! Thanks again, Grace!  :)

What’s the AFS? It’s a conference that focuses on the business of fashion with top fashion names coming in to provide fresh perspectives and business insights.

The three days have been very fulfilling, and here are the 10 reasons why I loved the Asia Fashion Summit.   

1. Fashion Junkies

The first thing I noticed when I stepped into the room is the number of fashion junkies around. They look so cool!

2. Social Media Engagement Done Right

Unlike some events that try to get on every social media platform and confuse everyone, the call to action was clear-cut at AFS2014: #AFS2014

That’s all that was needed.

3. Knowledge

I have learnt things over the past 3 days that I would have no way of knowing in my daily life, such as:

  • Did you know Singapore jumped 7 spots to become the 8th fashion capital in the world in 2011? And that we are 2nd in Asia (after Hong Kong)? Who says we are not fashionable? :)
  • Bluetooth technology for retail shops. Consumers are able to find out everything about any product by pointing their phone near it. From pricing and consumer reviews, this is certainly useful for consumers to decide if it’s a worthy buy.
  • A local architect designed the majestic Robinsons Singapore at Heeren. Proud of him!

4. Local Efforts to Discover Fashion Talents

Found out about the Fashion Design competition that is held annually by the Textile and Fashion Federation Singapore and Audi Star Creation.

It is by no means an easy task. A big salute to these companies – they have been supporting Singaporeans by giving them an international platform to showcase their talents.

This could be why in recent years we have been hearing more and more local designers winning awards. Keep it up, my fellow Singaporeans! :)

5. Funny and Engaging Speakers

Content is what makes a conference successful. The speakers at the conference are industry experts that covered various topics and these are my favorite two:

  1.  Mr Rick Yoo (MD of Lotte Global Fashion Division)

He is the first speaker but there’s absolutely no sign of him being nervous.  He is from Korea and I am glad I can understand his English perfectly. (It also helped that he has a nice voice!)

He talked about Lotte and the Korean fashion wave. It’s very informative but what stayed in my head were the light-hearted jokes he made:

  • In Korea, it’s ok if men can’t find their wives, but it’s not ok if their phones are missing! (Hmm I am not surprised if Singaporean men are like that too)
  • The reason why Winter Sonata was so popular in 2002 in Japan – Most Japanese ladies marry through match making and are unable to choose the person they love. This drama gave them hope! (Is that why so many Singapore aunties love this show too, they want to find true love?)
  • Kim Soo-hyun, the actor from My Love from the Star, is literally everywhere in Lotte’s departmental stores. (Actually I wouldn’t mind visiting a store with Kim Soo-hyun everywhere)
  1.   Mr Kelvin Lee (Business Development Director, South East Asia of Taobao International Business).

He is the only Singaporean speaker and I was really happy I did not need to strain my ears to understand the speaker.

I was also very impressed with him – from his looks I think he is at tops 35 years old, but he is already driving the business of Taobao in South East Asia. Today, who hasn’t heard of Taobao?

6. Workshops

Day 2 and 3 were workshop days, and there were a list of programs to choose from.

The workshops are smaller in scale than Day 1’s conference, and it’s a more intimate session where it’s less embarrassing to ask questions and network around. I made quite a number of friends in these workshop sessions!

7. Blueprint Emporium

Just next door to the conference, the BLUEPRINT EMPORIUM was set up in the larger Expo hall. It showcases shops from emerging designer labels and up-and-coming fashion brands in Singapore.

My friend that designed and sells women shoe bags was here too! I feel proud again. :)

8. Live Fashion Show

Ok I admit I am a mountain tortoise. This is my first time watching a live fashion show!

9. Conducive Venue

The renovated Suntec Convention Centre is just so pretty! Huge screen and lights made me feel like a kid all over again. The comfortable convention rooms also made it easier to learn and absorb information.

Lunch was provided on Day 1, and I absolutely love the mushroom soup!

10. Networking

As mentioned before, I made a few friends at this event.

One of them was the Head, Singapore Marketplace of Zalora South East Asia Pte Ltd. He shared with me interesting visions about Zalora and how they will be pushing the new Zalora Marketplace in Singapore.

What surprised me is that Zalora actually made the effort to meet each and every designer/shop owner before they get to publish on the website! It makes me feel really safe to shop with Zalora as I can be assured of the quality of the shops.

In fact, the reason Zalora attended the AFS2014 was to gather feedback on how they can help local designers to open a shop on Zalora. In my opinion, they have got everything covered – from polymailers, delivery and secured payments, it’s really hassle free to sell at Zalora Marketplace.

If you have quality local designed products and would like to sell on Zalora too, let me know and I’ll hook you up with the top guy in charge. :)

[Grace: To contact Kirbie, leave her a message HERE]

5 Things You Need To Know About Freediving

[Grace: This is a guest post by my friend and book editor, Zhengping. When he told me about his freediving hobby, I was, like, HUH? What is freediving? I know scuba diving but I’ve never heard of freediving before. Hence, I asked if he would be so kind as to share with us right here. Read all the way to the end, where you will be rewarded with a STUNNING video and perhaps, finally come to realize what the phrase “take your breath away” really means!]

Try this: take a deep breath, and hold it for as long as you can. Most people would give in to the burning urge to breathe again after one or two minutes.

What if I told you there was a way you could double that or more? What if you could train yourself to bring that single breath of air underwater for longer than you thought possible, and lose yourself as you fly through the sea?

Here’s a secret – that burn you feel is not because you are running out of oxygen. Rather, your body is telling you the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in your blood are rising. Even when it’s very uncomfortable, you still have plenty of air.

Now, the good news: with training, it’s indeed within many people’s reach to hold their breath for three or even four minutes, or longer – and dive to 30 or 40 metres down, way deeper than most recreational scuba dives!

That’s especially good to those who’ve told me that as kids, they tried holding their breath in swimming pools. The more adventurous ones have emptied their lungs and sunk to the bottom. I’m no exception, and I guess I’ve never outgrown that.

I can hold my breath for four and a half minutes, and swim more than the length of an Olympic pool underwater. I also hold the National Record for the deepest freedive by a Singaporean in competition, down to 38 metres. That’s very far from the best – they can do it for 12 minutes, and dive more than 100 metres deep.

Freediving

It’s my pleasure to accept Grace’s invitation to share this incredible sport with you. I’ve never found a better mix of power and relaxation, action and peace, and adventure and calm as freediving – and I doubt I ever will.

Before we begin, a safety note and the most important thing I can say: freediving, or any breath-hold training in water, should only be done under the eye of a trained buddy, and never alone.

Without further ado, here are 5 Things You Need to Know About Freediving:

1. It’s way different from scuba.

“Why not just stay down longer by scuba diving?” I’ve been asked.

I scuba dived before I started freediving, and I can tell you that even before you enter the water it’s very different. All that gear is heavy, and you need time to rig up and jump overboard from a crowded, rocking dive boat. Once underwater you can stay down longer, but the bubbles pouring from your regulator scares the fish and the straps you’re in lock you out of the freedom that should come from your newfound ability to fly over, under and through everything.

Freediving

Last year I freedived at the wreck of the USAT Liberty off the Bali coast, and loved the freedom of going right into the guts of the ship – swimming around the hull, winding through the spars and almost effortlessly gliding through passages too narrow and winding for scuba divers to enter safely.

And the feeling you get diving a wreck 20 metres down is an incredible one that I’ve never been able to forget. Freediving isn’t better or worse – I’ll definitely revisit scuba one day. It’s just different.

2. Our bodies are adapted for it.

Marine mammals like seals and dolphins can’t breathe underwater. Like us, they must hold their breath. When they dive, their bodies adapt to the pressure by lowering their heart rate (to conserve oxygen) and sending blood to the vessels near their lungs to protect them from being crushed.

These adaptations help them stay underwater longer – and we have them too! The diving reflex in humans is not as well-developed, but like a muscle, it can be trained, and will definitely get better with use.

This ‘gift’ is good news, but it gets better, because …

3. It’s far more easily trained than other sports.

Freediving is primarily based on relaxation – in that, it has far more in common with yoga than, say, swimming for fitness. While you do have to be reasonably fit to dive deep and well, the more fundamental skill is simply relaxing and letting as much go slack as possible. In the discipline known as ‘static’ apnea, it’s simply that – floating on the surface, face submerged, and staying calm through the bliss and the burn that follows.

Unlike other sports where you need to sweat your way to success, freediving needs you to stay calm; strain and adrenaline will only wear you out and force you back to the surface. This combination of peace, freedom and thrill is what freedivers speak of when they tell you they ‘blend’ or ‘become one’ with the water.

Anyone can relax. Anyone can develop the mental strength and physical adaptation to overcome the burn, and as you train it will come later and later, or become more manageable.

4. It’s not dangerous if you manage the risk well.

When I tell my friends about what I do for fun, the response is usually an incredulous stare. “Aren’t you afraid of drowning?” they ask.

The way I see it, everything we do has some measure of risk. You can swallow a fish bone, get injured by a faulty machine at the gym, or run into bad luck on the road. That’s why you manage the risk by (for instance) carefully checking for bones, or using your rear-view mirrors and sending your car for tune-ups.

Freediving is no different. There is some danger, like ear and lung injuries from the depth. That’s why we progress slowly and learn new techniques, giving our bodies time to adapt and figuring out what’s best for us. What works for one person may not for another.

We also dive in buddy pairs, and a critical part of training is how to rescue another freediver in difficulty, be it in a pool or open water. We learn how to return someone who’s lost consciousness to the surface, keep his or her airways clear of the water, and get the diver awake again. The whole process takes only a few seconds and leaves no ill-effects… provided the buddy is trained and there to begin with!

Freediving

So if you try holding your breath underwater, stay safe, get instruction and always do it with a trained buddy. When freediving makes the news in Singapore, I’d prefer it be as a great adventure sport anyone can enjoy, not a dumb stunt someone got harmed or killed trying.

5. It’s not just a sport, but a way of life.

I don’t agree with the characterisation of freediving as an ‘extreme sport’. That implies only a few select athletes can enjoy it. As I said before, it’s a source of fun and adventure, and when the freedive bug bites, it changes everything you do. And because freediving is so personal, your fiercest competitor and best encourager will be yourself. Every dive is special, because it is the culmination of all the training you’ve done and the techniques you’ve learned, and no one can ever take that away.

I was never a traveler or much of a social animal before. Now I make time for overseas freediving trips, keep up with fellow freedivers and regularly train with them to hone my technique and CO2 tolerance.

I’ve been freediving since 2010, and every time I train or dive deep I find myself more and more at home in the water, and it’s now my life mission to learn everything I need to go further, relax deeper and stay down longer.

Freediving

My five-year goal is to reach 100 metres on a freedive – more than twice the depth limit of recreational scuba diving and the domain of some of the best freedivers in the world. If I’m the first Singaporean to reach that depth, so much the better.

Wish me luck! And the water’s great – come on in. The instructors in Singapore whom I’ve trained with are great people, and they’re just a Google search for ‘freediving Singapore’ away.

I’ll leave you with a short film by one of my heroes, the French world champion freediver Guillaume Nery. In the video he does a thrilling jump into an underwater crevice in the Bahamas, which goes down for hundreds of feet.

It’s definitely inspired me to reach greater depths, and I’ve found it a great introduction to what freedivers are capable of. Enjoy!

[Thanks, Zhengping! :D Amazing stuff! I watched the video and I was thinking “Ok… he jumps… and we should cue some subs which say ‘That’s the last we see of him’, right?” :D Well, apparently not. He lives to tell the tale. 

If you are interested in the underwater world and what it holds for you, beyond scuba-diving, well, here you have it: Freediving! Write to me if you try it (with expert supervision, of course)! ]

Guest Post: Insider Tips On Business Blogging

[Grace: I’ve received a number of emails from people asking if they can guest post on my blog so I thought I’ll give guest posting a try after screening them. I’ve definitely learnt a thing or two from this guest post by Rob Parker so I hope you’ll enjoy it too!]

Business Blogging

Over the last 12 to 18 months, businesses of all sizes have become aware of the term ‘Content Marketing’. At its most basic level, that has meant writing – or hiring someone to write – regular blog posts, and this has become a key part of the marketing strategy for many organisations.

The reasons for this are pretty straightforward:

  • SEO

Google loves fresh content. A regularly updated blog all about your business and sector is the easiest way to achieve that.

  • Brand building

Telling compelling stories about your business raises awareness of your brand and encourages loyalty among existing customers.

  • Social media

A blog acts as an overflow and content generator for your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ accounts.

  • Thought leadership

Blogging allows you to demonstrate your expertise on a particular topic and, as a result, create a level of trust with potential customers before they have even contacted you.

So, how do you write a business blog that helps you to achieve all of those things?

1) Stay on topic

Blogging for business is very different from a personal blog. While a personal blog might take a scattergun approach to various topics, your business blog should remain focused on your niche. These are the things that people will expect to read about when they visit your site and are the things that are of interest to them.

2) Add value

Good business blogging isn’t just writing about your business. Think about how you can add value for a reader. Put yourself in their position: why should they spend time reading your latest blog post? What’s in it for them?

Usually the answer is to provide them with information that will be of use to them. It might tell them how to do something, explain something they didn’t understand or provide them with some entertainment. If you opt for the latter, make sure that your blog is relevant as well as entertaining.

3) Consider SEO

When writing your blog posts – and particularly when writing blog titles – think about relevant search terms that will be used by people who might be interested in your blog. Incorporating them into your work will be far more fruitful than any wordplay you might consider using instead.

4) Build a brand persona

Blogging allows you to ‘talk’ directly with potential customers. Spend some time thinking about how your business should ‘sound’, the type of language it uses and how your readers expect to be addressed. Deciding this in advance allows you to have a consistent tone running through all your blog posts from the outset.

5) Stick at it

Worse than not having a blog is having a blog that you don’t maintain. This gives the impression that there is nothing going on at your business. Schedule time for writing blog posts. Writing regularly over a sustained period is the only way to achieve the benefits of business blogging.

-

This blog post was written by Rob Parker, who blogs for Singapore fridge rental company Lowe Refrigeration.

Andrew Chow’s 7 Life Lessons about the Entrepreneurship Journey

‘7 Life Lessons about the Entrepreneurship Journey’ by Andrew Chow

*With graphics added by Grace*

1. Invite a mentor, not hire a coach. A coach is responsible for your performance while a mentor is interested in you as a person. You can always hire a coach but it is hard for you to invite a mentor into your life. He has to be genuinely interested in your life and your personal development. Both of you should like to spend time with each other a lot.

2. Building a quality Database is the second most important task for an entrepreneur other than maintaining healthy cash flow. This is probably the biggest asset an entrepreneur can enjoy in the initial phase. Learn to build the database by networking, event marketing, strategic alliance, referral and crowd sourcing on social media platforms.

3. Keep yourself gainfully occupied between the time of Sowing and the time of reaping. You should continue to sow as a lifestyle. If you keep sowing as a momentum, reaping will happen continuously too once the first fruits appear. What you sow may not be what you reap. Who you sow to may not be the same person you will reap from. Where you sow may not be where you reap as well.

4. The best business friend an entrepreneur can have is members of the mass media. As advertising loses its effectiveness in startup business, public relations can position an entrepreneur in the minds of the target audience faster and have him be seen as more credible. The art of media pitching is something everyone can master through practice and a little creativity.

5. The toughest call in an entrepreneurship journey is making a decision to move on after a failure. It is about activating your exit plan. It is about taking stock of your resources and an audit of where you are in the business plan. Take your time to reflect on the mistakes you have made and write down lessons learnt in order not to repeat them.

6. The hardest part in any business operation is getting from generating Ideas to actual implementation. It requires determination, creativity and innovation. The management of ideas becomes very important. Know who to share the ideas with. Share ideas without sharing its concepts. Ideas are generally cheap, implementation is always expensive. Ideas are from visionaries but an entrepreneur also needs to be a manager to implement them.

7. The way to effective marketing of an entrepreneur’s business often lies in his personal branding. Once your name and what your forte is has become deeply rooted in the minds of people around you, you literally multiply yourself many folds. Personal branding is about building your profile, knowing which partners you want, which publication to produce, what media to connect with, which charity to serve and also what awards you want to win to showcase your spirit of enterprise.

(Guest Blog Post) Life Lessons In Resilience

[A Guest Blogpost by Esther Tan]

* Esther, pictured with Bryan Wong *


Darryl David was the emcee for this event, and he was brilliant at his job. He listened very intently to each of the guests’ stories and showed genuine interest in what each guest was speaking about. He asked the right questions and easily switched to Mandarin during some parts, so that it was easier for the audience (comprising largely of Mandarin speakers) to understand what he meant. Indeed, he lives up to his decade of experience.

I got to the Suntec City ballroom at 3pm (the event starts at 4pm) and there was already a snaking queue with approximately two hundred people. And I thought I was the only ‘kiasu‘ one around!

I was near the back in the queues, for both the goodie bags and entry.

However thanks to my (self-proclaimed) ingenuity, I managed to snag a seat in the 3rd row from the front. (The 1st and 2nd rows were reserved for the VIPs)

There were about 500 people in the ballroom, most of whom were middle-aged or the elderly. It seemed I was the youngest participant!

The event began with Darryl introducing the guests:
(in order of speaking sequence)

Catherine Sng, one of MediaCorp’s most hardworking and established veteran actresses.
Ms. M Kaarveri, a caregiver from Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Singapore.
Mr. Raymond Lai, Senior Education Officer
Ms. Tan Wai Jia, a final-year medical student attached to National University Hospital.
Bryan Wong – One of Channel 8’s most popular TV hosts.
Chew Chor Meng, a Mediacorp actor most well-known for his ‘Lobang King’ role in 《敢敢做个开心人》.

Catherine was a bowl of sunshine, poking fun at her linguistic skills, and making jokes at how she’ll never finish within the 7 minutes time limit, to lighten the otherwise serious and gloomy atmosphere.

She shared her story, of how she only had up till Primary 3 education back then, and she knew she had to learnt new skills, and to never stop learning.

When she was 26 years old, she was a sales coordinator who had to do house-to-house visits to get sales. It was tough, but she persevered.

Since her command of English wasn’t really good at that time, she made some mistakes in pronunciation, such as “comfort-table” instead of “comfortable” (with literal emphasis on “table”). :)

She was apparently on very good terms with her customers, as some of them helped her to learn English.

Tragedy struck when she found out that she had 3rd stage colon cancer.

Nonetheless, she remained positive.

One phrase she used stuck with me: “Cancer is just another virus“.

During her speech, Catherine emphasized on how it is most important that we remain positive. It isn’t how long we live that matters, but how well we live.

She caused a few teary eyes when she mentioned that she was very glad that she was the one who got the cancer virus, and not her husband or her son who was in the army.

Like many women whose husbands work overseas, Catherine was also afraid that her husband would have a mistress. The time zone differences also caused some communication difficulties. Catherine was undergoing chemotherapy back then and was afraid she’d lose her husband, to the point that she contemplated suicide. Thankfully, a friend whom she called persuaded her into staying alive, by making sure he’ll get to see her on the following Monday. Hence, Catherine is very grateful for her best friend and pillar of support.

One takeaway I got from her speech is that sometimes you may have something that you can’t exactly tell your family, so it is important to have other hands around to help you up when you fall down.

The next speaker was M Kaarveri, a caregiver whose own mother suffers from dementia.

She read from a script but she was eloquent and her speech was fluid and deeply emotional. Having her own mother forget who her child is caused Ms Kaarveri a lot of emotional turmoil and even suicidal thoughts. However, she put herself in her mother’s shoes, recalled how her mother had always taken good care of her, and quit her full-time job to be a full-time caregiver.

Ms Kaarveri has seven other siblings, but since each have their own families and problems, she tried not to burden them further. Luckily, blood is thicker than water after all, and her siblings offered assistance to face this issue together as a family.

She mentioned that mellower years would bring about a clearer mind. Perhaps dementia isn’t that bad after all; since she learnt a lot of things and is spending more quality time with her mother than ever before.

Her positive attitude is indeed admirable!

The third speaker was Mr Raymond Lai, a Senior Education Officer.

Previously, he worked in a bank for 13 years. The bank held the Japanese mindset that longer hours at work equaled productivity. Therefore, Raymond worked really hard throughout those 13 years, forfeiting even the chance to go back home to celebrate Chinese New Year with his family. Instead of tossing Yu Sheng, he stayed back in the office to eat cup noodles alone. Even on the eve of his wedding day, he left work at 10pm, despite the many preparations required for the next day.

In 2001, when the 2nd merger for his bank started, it occurred to Raymond that he should spend more time with his family – for a legitimate reason. His own son, having hardly seen his father around, called Raymond “uncle” instead of “dad”. Heartbreaking, isn’t it?

Later, he was headhunted by another company, with better employee benefits. However, Raymond felt that he couldn’t find a feeling of satisfaction in his job, and during the SARS outbreak in 2003, he quit his job to care for his mother who had suffered a stroke.

Throughout this time, his friends and family showed their utmost support, and soon, Raymond started venturing into entrepreneurship, a new concept then. He toyed with the idea of providing eldercare services, with inspiration from his own mother.
However, like every other job, this job had many challenges and was extremely labor-intensive.

He then received a call asking him to teach inmates and prisoners, which he originally declined, but later accepted. Raymond proceeded to teach inmates resilience and self-belief, hoping to change and inspire each individual he met. Some of his students even moved on to get degrees!

Raymond, who has ventured from the corporate world into the service sector, which is a big shift in environment, has this one piece of advice: Have the guts to step out of your comfort zone, and realize your dream. Have a never-say-die attitude, and always question yourself about what is it exactly that you want.

Many would have been enticed by the high-paying job. How many would choose a more difficult and challenging, perhaps even thankless, job that you know would be fulfilling eventually?

For that, I respect Mr Raymond Lai, and kudos to him for being an inspiration, teaching us that it’s never too late to seek what we truly want.

The next speaker was a young lady, but her youth didn’t compromise the valuable lessons she had to share.

Tan Wai Jia is a 3rd-year medical student attached to National University Hospital. She shared with us her tough and embarrassing past (for a medical student).

Six years ago, when she first moved into her medical school hostel, she was living there by herself, and for a student, this is definitely overwhelming. Without even realizing it, she slipped into depression and anorexia, and refused to admit that she had a problem.

When family and friends expressed their concern, she took their worry as them judging and belittling her. It was only much later did she realize that she indeed had a problem, and went to seek help.

For a medical student facing this issue, it was very “pai seh” (embarrassing) and she suffered much guilt and shame back then, but Wai Jia urged everyone to be honest with ourselves, and to seek help.

It isn’t the number of times you slip, but the number of times that you pick yourself up that truly matters.

When she decided to raise awareness for anorexia, her family opposed. After all, it might ruin her chances of being a doctor in future. How can a doctor who is sick herself treat others?

Wai Jia taught us that stigma prevents people from getting help, and she pressed on with her aim. Things took a good turn, as she unexpectedly got selected into the training program that she wanted – even though she was honest about her illness.

Hence, Wai Jia encourages us to be brave – share your story, it will not only help you, but everyone around you who might be facing the same issue. Furthermore, there will always be light at the end of the tunnel, so be positive, and get rid of bleak thoughts.

Wai Jia’s speech marked the end of the first half of this event. After the 10-minute break and a sumptuous buffet spread, it was time for the highlight of the event – Bryan and Chor Meng’s speeches.

During the interval, the audience (including myself) grabbed the opportunity to snap some shots of Chor Meng and Bryan who were already seated onstage.
They posed a stark contrast – Bryan was warm and friendly, ready to flash a grin for the aunties and me while Chor Meng was brooding and deep in thought, occasionally giving a reluctant smile.

Bryan volunteered to speak first, much to the audience’s excitement.

Throughout his speech, he switched comfortably between English and Mandarin, whichever he felt could emphasize his point better.

Bryan led us into his story of how he overcame many obstacles. Despite his being voted ‘Favorite Variety TV Show Host’ during Star Award ceremonies all this while, it turns out that he wasn’t very popular back when he started acting.

Bryan started out as a child actor, and one of his first few jobs was MediaCorp’s ‘Master of the Sea’ production, which he isn’t very proud of.

Later on, Channel 8 needed more male actors, and he was scouted to be a host for the show ‘City Beat’. Bryan worked hard for that one year. However, he was called up to his boss’ office one day, to be told that he was one of the most hated TV personalities at that time.

He was speechless when his boss asked him to explain, because he didn’t know what to say. If you’re a TV personality, you must be very egotistical and love yourself, if not, how else would you make others love you?

He was afraid to let his family know, especially his father who was ill at that time. Bryan didn’t want to make them worried, so the “new age sensitive guy” (in his own words) cried alone. Days later, he turned in a resignation letter, but was persuaded by his boss to give himself some time.

At that time, TV show hosts were only ‘saying the good things’. However, Bryan was known for being blunt and direct. He laughed at people’s mistakes. He seemed arrogant, and thus didn’t receive the public’s love. Perhaps it will change in the future when people want someone who is honest and funny. And it did change.

Bryan emphasized that it was better to confide in others, both good and bad things. When you share happiness, it is doubled. When you share your sorrow, the sorrow is halved.

I don’t know where he got the statistics from, but Bryan said that life consists of 85% unhappiness, and that’s why we have to treasure the 15% happiness, while we still can.

However, half a year later, his father passed away, and this was the second great blow to him. He knew that as the only son of the family, he had to stay strong for his mother and older sister, and place them as his priority, instead of wallowing in sadness. And so he did, using this as his source of strength to get through this challenge.

Rather than being unhappy, Bryan explains that it’ll be better to knock the wall down between you and your loved ones, so that they can share the burden with you. After all, family and friends will stick with you through thick and thin, and they’ll be your pillars of support.

It was then time for Chor Meng‘s speech. Chor Meng shared with us about his sickness – muscular dystrophy.

In 2006, Chor Meng was feeling out of sorts. After taking a few steps, he would fall over for no reason. This continued, his legs felt weak, and he grew tired easily. He visited many doctors, and was finally diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.
The doctors even told him that he had only two years to live, and to spend more time with his kids.

Chor Meng was stuck in a period of darkness and self-pity, till he saw how his mother was often crying for him in a corner, as she believed she was to be blamed for this hereditary disease.

His daughter even went up to him and told him that she wants to be a doctor in the future, so that she can cure his illness.

He came to the realization that you’re the one who can choose to laugh or cry. When you’re sick, your family is shouldering the burden as well, and you’re not the only one in pain.

Chor Meng learnt to cope with people’s judging stares, and accepted being called “pai kha‘ (‘crippled’). He believes that because he has walked too fast before and missed out on many things, life wants him to walk slower now and admire life and the things he didn’t notice before.

He even made a joke that we shouldn’t go for a “pity party”, because only “I, me and myself” will be at this party. When you’re sad, there’s someone who is sadder than you are.

Everything happens for a reason, so just look from a different perspective. You’ll lose all hope if you look down on yourself, so have a positive outlook on life, and everything that you do will be beautiful when you’re happy. This, he believes, will be the best medicine, and the choice lies with each of us.

That marked the end of the talk. During the Q&A session, someone with the same illness as Chor Meng spoke up and thanked him for sharing. It showed me that these Life Lessons in Resilience, despite lasting a mere two hours, have touched the audience and helped some people. As Wai Jia has shared, when you share your story, you’re helping not only yourself but many others too.

All in all, attending ‘Life Lessons in Resilience’ was a very enriching and memorable experience.