Blogging For A Living: SIM HQ Book Talk 2nd April 2014

[This post was featured in my Book Talk at SIM HQ on 2nd April]

Bannerman Blogging Comic

{ source }

Add Me On Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/thegracetan

Tip #1: Your NETWORK is extremely important!

Grace at i.Dental

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~ A Bit About Me: How My Blog Was Started ~

yay

With MP Penny Low

Penny Low

Minister Sim Ann

Blogger Grace and Minister Sim Ann 2

Tip #2: Follow your passion. The money (and rewards) will come.

BRANDS Essence of Chicken

RWS Dolphin Island

[*Read my blogpost about my visit to Dolphin Island. Initially I felt that dolphins should just be left in the wild. After the visit, I came to understand how the dolphins are being cared for at Resorts World Sentosa.]

MILO Champions League 2013

MILO Champions League 2013

Tip #3: Find your passion and work hard at it. If you want something badly enough, you will get it.

Receiving my award from Minister Lawrence Wong

Tip #4: Face your fears.

croc hunter

Tip #5: The quitters never win. And the winners don’t quit.

~ Monetisation ~

(1) Advertorials

(2) Ads – sidebar, banner, social media mentions

(3) More in my book ‘Blogging For A Living’

A picture with the all-female organizing team :D

Book Talk at SIM

Join me at upcoming events HERE.

5 Things You Need To Know About Social Egg Freezing

baby

Only recently, I heard about Social Egg Freezing as a means of preserving fertility. My adorable twin godsons came about only after multiple rounds of IVF as it’s really difficult to get pregnant once one is past a certain age. Another friend, in her late 30s, has been trying for a baby for the past 2 years, but good news has yet to come. So social egg freezing does sound like a great option for women to have – it’s kind of like ‘insurance’ where fertility is concerned. Freeze your eggs while you are in your early thirties and “still young”, and when you want to have babies later in life, you encounter fewer hoops to jump through, as the doctors will have your younger and healthier eggs to work with.

I have found that social egg freezing is great for those who:

1) Want the option of having children later in life

2) Haven’t found Mr Right yet

3) Want to focus on their careers first

4) Are not emotionally or financially ready for a child yet

Social egg freezing buys you time. Most women tend to delay marriage and having kids, and by the time they are ready for a child, it just doesn’t happen.

However, freezing of one’s eggs in Singapore is allowed only under certain medical conditions, such as if the woman is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, which could affect her ability to conceive in future.

While there is some debate as to whether social egg freezing could potentially lead to an increase in birth rates, I feel it is a modern woman’s right to decide what she wants to do with her body and her eggs in particular! Whether women actually opt for the procedure or not, they should at least be given the choice to do so. At the moment, you will have to head overseas if you want to do social egg freezing.

5 Things You Need To Know About Social Egg Freezing:

1) It preserves fertility - A woman’s chances of having her own biological child starts declining from age 33 onwards and is less than 1% after age 43. http://www.singstat.gov.sg/statistics/visualising_data/chart/Age_Specific_Fertility_Rates.html

2) Not allowed in Singapore yet but you can opt for the procedure to be done in countries like the United States, Australia, Britain, Malaysia, Thailand, etc.

3) Fees involved - the procedure would cost about S$8,000 in Malaysia and Thailand.

4) The eggs can be stored indefinitely 

5) Some risks involved: Hyper-stimulation could occur in some cases. In hyper-stimulation, the tummy feels bloated from enlargement of the ovaries and collection of fluid in the abdomen. This can be minimized considerably by using GnRH antagonist suppression and GnRH agonist trigger.

You should definitely consider social egg freezing if you have turned 30, and you are certain that you would like to have a kid in future but not just yet due to whatever reason (missing Mr Right, putting your career first, etc). Women face this dilemma where work and kids are concerned as the ‘prime years’ for advancing in your career are those same years that are best for bearing children. Social egg freezing can potentially help you to have the best of both worlds.

To find out which are the best centers to have your eggs stored, you may like to contact Dr. Charles M P Lim at dr.charles.mpl@gmail.com.

Hello Kitty Stamps by SingPost: Where To Buy Them

After Hello Kitty Ez-link cards, we now have Hello Kitty stamps to purchase! To celebrate Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary, limited edition MyStamps will be released throughout 2014. Enjoy early bird discounts from 10 – 31 March 2014.

{ Images in this post are from SingPost }

Hello Kitty Stamps SingPost

Each MyStamp set comes with exclusive Hello Kitty collectibles and souvenir sheets.

Hello Kitty Stamps SingPost

The signature product of the SingPost X Hello Kitty 40th Anniversary Collection is the Hello Kitty Limited Edition MyStamp Book Set (S$69.90) which will be released on 16 April 2014. This exquisitely designed 8-page book contains limited edition Hello Kitty MyStamp souvenir sheets. It also comes with a Hello Kitty tote bag.

Hello Kitty Stamps SingPost

Hello Kitty Stamps SingPost

Hello Kitty Stamps SingPost

Hello Kitty Singapore MyStamp Folder Set (S$18) will be also available for sale on 16 April. The remaining MyStamp Folder Sets featuring Hello Kitty Classic (S$28), Hello Kitty Love and Friendship (S$28), and Hello Kitty 40th Anniversary Celebration (S$38) will be released in June, August and October respectively.

Hello Kitty Stamps SingPost

Collectors can enjoy a special price of S$148 when they pre-order the entire set of SingPost X Hello Kitty 40th Anniversary Collection between 10 March and 31 March 2014, an early bird savings of S$33.90. In addition, they will receive a special Hello Kitty lanyard.

Pre-orders can be made at the post office or online at http://www.stampdelight.com.

Each Hello Kitty MyStamp product can be purchased separately or as a bundle set. Collectors who purchase the bundle set between 1 April and 31 October 2014 will enjoy the bundle set promotional price of S$155.

Pricing when ordering online:

Preorder online on Omigo: S$18 for the Hello Kitty Singapore set + S$8.90 shipping and handling = S$26.90

*Free delivery for orders above S$99

*Omigo store’s “WELCOME15″ voucher code for S$15 off S$100 spending is NOT valid for Hello Kitty stamp purchase. :(

Billionaire Jack Ma On Success In Life And Business

[The following is a summary (of sorts) of what I'd read here. I've included only those points which resonated with me.]

Your attitude is more important than your aptitude.

Unite the company with a common goal, not around a particular person.

The employee should have superior technical skills while the employer should be a visionary, have tenacity and a greater ability to accept and embrace failure.

Do not be involved in politics if you are running a business.

Giving up is the greatest failure.

We are born not to work our entire life, but to enjoy life. Don’t spend your whole life working.

A real businessman or entrepreneur has no enemies.

Successful people are not whiners, and they do not complain often either.

The world will not remember what you say, but it will certainly not forget what you have done.

The opportunities that everyone cannot see, are the real opportunities.

Start a company with the right people – those with complementary skills.

Even if your competitor is weak, take him seriously. Even if your competitor is massive, don’t regard yourself as a weakling.

[For the full article in English, click here]

RUN for Tomorrow. RUN 350!

Run 350

Get your running shoes ready, folks! The NTUC Income Run 350, Organised by Young NTUC, is happening on Sunday, 27th April 2014! The 21-km half-marathon has been fully subscribed but slots for the 10km run are still available!

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Our earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide level is currently close to 400 parts per million. If this continues, tipping points will be triggered and irreversible impacts will send climate change spinning truly beyond our control. NTUC Income RUN 350, Organised by Young NTUC is Southeast Asia’s premier eco-run in support of the global 350 movement. The movement serves to raise awareness of the need to lower atmospheric carbon dioxide level to 350 parts per million and to create a greater sense to urgency in meeting the challenge of the climate crisis facing our planet today.

This year, RUN 350 introduced its inaugural Medal Recycling Campaign where the public is encouraged to donate their old medals and contribute to the recycling effort. The collected medals will be processed and used as part of the raw materials in the production of new medals. The more medals collected, the greater the reduction of new materials being used. Medal collection points are located islandwide until 28 February 2014.

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I have just two medals at home, as I am a new runner, but if you have many medals at home just collecting dust, why not recycle them? :)

For more information: http://www.run350.com/

How The Labour Movement & CPF Board Protect Workers

I have already written about my former employer’s ‘creative accounting’ methods with regard to my CPF contributions. When employers try to deny workers their CPF monies, it really upsets me. So in this blogpost, I’m including a ‘case study’ of a 65 year old cleaner, NTUC’s proposal to raise CPF contribution rates for older workers, and how we can all play a part in ensuring low wage workers do not get treated unfairly by their employers by equipping them with knowledge about their rights as workers.

The 65 year old cleaning lady

Cleaner Auntie

The cleaning contractor she is working for told her she could either choose to receive more take-home pay (S$800) without CPF, or get CPF but with less pay. On top of that, she was not offered a contract of service, thus she was not entitled to annual leave, medical leave and other Employment Act benefits.

Her son, aged over 40, suffers from schizophrenia and lives with her. He has trouble holding down a job but has medical bills of up to S$200 per month.

When she realized her friends were receiving Workfare but she wasn’t, she called the NTUC hotline 1800-255-2828 to enquire about how to sign up for Workfare, not realizing that it is an auto-inclusion scheme by the government as long as the employee gets CPF.

She was referred to the CPF Board, which helped her retrieve 3 years’ worth of employer CPF contributions, amounting to S$2940. Although she gets less take-home pay, the CPF contributions can go towards the rent for her rental flat and foot part of her son’s medical bills. She can now receive Workfare too.

Unfortunately, without a contract of service, the company will not be reimbursing her for the annual leave, medical leave, etc, that she should have gotten during the 3 years she worked for them.

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Raising CPF Contribution Rates For Older Workers: The Debate

The Labour Movement’s Deputy Secretary-General Heng Chee How is pushing for higher CPF contribution rates (especially from the employer) so our older workers can have more savings for retirement and healthcare. Their emphasis is on employer CPF contribution rates to be raised from the current 14% for workers aged over 50 years

CPF

These rates were cut in previous years when times were bad and to make older workers above 50 years more attractive to employers who had other concerns such as recessions. But now that things are looking better, and we are living longer (is 50 years really THAT old?), shouldn’t those rates be revised upwards? On top of this, workers aged over 50 years may still have housing loans and children education costs to pay, which a higher employer CPF contribution rate would help. Taking this one step further, should workers, regardless of age, be denied their due (CPF or otherwise) if they have proven themselves to be good employees?

Predictably, employers are dismayed by the CPF hikes. Some older workers are also worried that this may cause employers to be hesitant about employing them.

I do think that, yes, some employers may find it less attractive to hire older workers now because of the CPF rate hike, but it’s not a huge concern because of the tight labour market. Moreover the government is helping older workers keep their jobs e.g. Special Employment Credit given to companies, especially to SMEs. Some may say it’s never a good time to raise CPF contribution rates, but if implemented, it’s better to time it during tight labour market conditions than during downturns with poor economic forecasts.

My main concern would be how employers get greater “incentive” to get creative with their accounting, again. Either tell older employees to accept higher take-home pay without CPF (like in the cleaner’s case I shared above), or try to sneak the employer’s CPF contribution from the employee’s salary (like I have personally experienced). Or there could be even other ways of getting around paying CPF that crafty employers have devised!

How then can we help these older workers, and those who are more vulnerable to being ‘exploited’ (for lack of a better word)?

1) Ask: do not assume that because your aunt or neighbor appears to be happy with his/her job, that all is rosy where CPF matters are concerned. Sometimes, just by asking if he/she has received Workfare can help uncover certain things that unscrupulous employers have been doing.

2) Support: Most of these older workers would not know how to get their monies back. Some may even be fearful of losing their jobs and hence not take any action. Explain that what their employer is doing is unlawful and even if asked to pay back the CPF monies owed, the employer has no grounds for dismissing the worker. If the employer decides to fire out of spite, take up the case with the Manpower Ministry.

3) Know: Know your rights as a worker, and know that you can seek help anytime you think your rights have been infringed upon by an employer. One of the numbers to call is the NTUC hotline 1800-255-2828.

6 Golden Rules For Hiking Safety: Great Shots Should Never End In Tragedy

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[This is a guest post by Simon Chan, a travel blogger and one of my blogging workshop participants. All pictures in this blogpost are supplied by Simon]

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Great Shots Should Never End in Tragedy: Safety considerations you need to know when climbing Mount Kinabalu

The hiking community in Singapore and Malaysia were saddened to learn about the hiking tragedy that took place at Mount Kinabalu on Monday (10 Feb 2014). The peak of Borneo is a very popular climb among the hikers in this region and astounding views await those who overcome all 4,095 metres (13,435 ft) to reach the summit.

Victoria Paulsen was doing what most adventurers do at some point in their hikes. She was probably drawn to that special photographic angle that would make her hike something different from everyone else’s. According to news reports, she crossed a safety barrier at the summit of Mount Kinabalu, slipped and fell, and her pursuit of the one unique image ended in unimaginable tragedy.

Paulsen was just 22.

Climbing Mount Kinabalu is not always the easiest of experiences. It is a climb that is popular with locals and tourists alike, but you have to be in better-than-average physical shape to really trek up this mountain properly. You don’t need to have any specialized gear most of the time to reach the summit beyond being appropriately dressed for the weather and having a good pair of hiking boots. It is also good if you know how to use a guide rope to your advantage (nearing the summit).

You should also have some idea about how mountain conditions can change. The best time to climb Mount KK is during March to August while end of the year (November and December) brings heavy rainfall. When the mountain gets wet, the mountain gets slick. Even with anchors in place, a slick mountain is not a hiker’s best friend.

The quest to get a great photograph is not worth the price of a life. In keeping with that thought, we thought we’d provide some tips [or reminders!] of how to take unique, stunning shots without placing your life at risk to get that perfect image.

1) Don’t Ignore Safety Barriers

Safety barriers are put up for a reason. It’s like a warning label: they exist because something happened to someone at some point in time or the potential for harm is very great. Don’t cross a safety barrier because you think nothing will happen! It only takes one moment or one unexpected set of circumstances for everything to go tragically wrong. You can still get a great shot behind a safety barrier!

2) You Can Never Prepare Too Much For a Climb

Mount Kinabalu might not need any specialized climbing equipment to reach the summit, but that doesn’t mean mountain conditions up there won’t change when you are up there exploring. Take a look at the history of the mountain or other region you’re preparing to explore to make sure you know what could happen when you are exposed. Just because something hasn’t happened for a decade doesn’t mean it won’t happen this year when you are out on an adventure!

3) Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Accidents tend to happen when photographers begin rushing around. As soon as you start rushing to get a shot, thoughts of safety become fleeting at best. Climbing Mount KK for the average person should take two days – one to get up the mountain and one day to get down for most people. Plan for an extra day after that so that you can have a buffer of time, instead of being stressed out by thoughts of rushing for that flight home.

For longer trekking adventures, a two day buffer is usually good to have just in case the weather becomes a problem or you just don’t feel good for some reason on one of the days. What’s the worst case scenario? That you get to have another mini-adventure after your planned itinerary is completed!

Check out Grace’s blog post on what else to do in Kota Kinabalu.

It’s true that Mount Kinabalu can be explored in its entirety in just one day, but patience is a virtue especially when you are planning to take amazing shots. Allow for more time to get great shots and they will appear!

4) Remember To Bring Water

It is a hard lesson that is only ignored once. Even if you are taking a tour and the brochure states that they will provide you with water, pack your own too! It’s better to have too much water than not enough.

5) Always Travel With Someone

When it comes to safety, more eyes are always better. Paulsen was reportedly climbing with some friends (and a guide) and that’s a good thing. The type of friend to bring along with you is the friend that will prevent you from making a bad decision in the quest for the perfect shot. They need to be willing to say “Don’t climb over that safety rail!” and work hard to make sure you aren’t your own worst enemy. Yesterday’s events prove, however, that sometimes having a good friend just isn’t good enough.

6) Always Tell Someone Else Where You’re Going… And When You’ll Return

The unexpected can strike at any time. It often happens, in fact, when we least expect something to happen! Some people have climbed Mount Kinabalu dozens of times and know the landscape like the back of their hand. That doesn’t mean a loose rock won’t cause a turned ankle and leave them unable to walk off the mountain!

By telling someone what your itinerary is, you are protecting yourself in case something does happen and you get stranded with no way to communicate. When you don’t report back in, your trusted someone can relay your itinerary to the search authorities and you will have a better chance of being found safe and sound.

Losing someone we love is always difficult. Together let us make sure that we as hikers stay safe as we enjoy our trekking adventures so that tragedies like Victoria Paulsen’s don’t have to be repeated.

Visit Simon’s Blog at TravelledPaths.com and follow his adventures on Facebook too (fb.com/travelledpaths).

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From Blogging Noob To Award-Winning Blogger

[This post is for my sharing session with graduates of a training company which specializes in WordPress, SEO, etc. I *might* flesh this out after the session. :D]

~ Update ~

Websprout Academy

“Thank you so much for your time and sharing this evening. The graduates enjoyed it!” – KC Tan, Chief Education Officer, Websprout Academy Pte Ltd

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My New Toy:

Panasonic LUMIX GF6

Panasonic LUMIX GF6, worth S$749

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Blogging About What I Like:

Hello Kitty blogger

Blogging About What I Don’t Like:

wish you were here

Blogging About Who / What Inspires Me:

Grace & Daniel Ong

Blogging About The Latest Products:

Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue

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Blogging Has Taken Me Places:

Sponsored Dive Trip

At Low's Peak

Me and Doraemon

croc hunter

The “Other Side”

Most Baffling Advertiser

My Experiences: In One Book

Blogging For A Living

Blogging For A Living book

Blogging For A Living Bestseller

Workshops

Blogging Workshops 21 and 22 Sept 2013

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My Invitation To You

{ 23rd Feb, 1pm }

SHIPPON: Self-watering Wild Strawberry Plant

Video of how to get started:

I’ve blogged about the Pet Bottle Water Culture – Green Pet. Click here to read the blogpost. The cherry tomato plant is growing really well, but the wild strawberry one just doesn’t seem to sprout. Perhaps it is due to Singapore’s weather. *Given up* :P

Hoping for homegrown cherry tomatoes soon!

Pet Bottle Water Culture Green Pet

Celebrating Every Win

Panasonic LUMIX GF6

Just collected my camera prize yesterday. It was for a winning blogpost entry in the Panasonic – 30 Minute Cookin’ Blogger Challenge. :D You can check out the blogpost here.

For a blogging challenge using sponsored ingredients (mainly), the prize is pretty fab! A Panasonic LUMIX GF6 worth S$749!

One of the many reasons why I love being a blogger. I can take part in blogger-only competitions, and those open to the public. Hehe!

Looking forward to more such opportunities in 2014! :D