Welcome to WorkingWithGrace! :)

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Hi! I’m Grace. Welcome to my blog, WorkingWithGrace.🙂 I have interviewed a number of inspiring people for my blog, many of whom are celebrities, millionaires and entrepreneurs. Here’s one of them…

Meet Peter Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Peter was one of my former interviewees, and here’s a quick clip for those who have never met him before:

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Since 2013, this blog has received awards and recognition from many brands. I’ve been blessed with awards such as these ones:

2013 Best Individual Blog WINNER at the annual Singapore Blog Awards
2013 Aries Gold Watches’ Blogger Contest WINNER
2013 Zespri Blogger Challenge WINNER
2013 StarHub Blogger Challenge WINNER
2014 BRANDS’ Blogger Challenge WINNER
2014 Influr Blogger Challenge WINNER
2014 rolleyes x Panasonic Blogger Challenge WINNER
2015 SingSaver Blogger Contest WINNER

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I’ve been blogging since 2010, and I’m currently putting together a list of my best blogposts from these 5+ years of blogging. In the meantime, here are two of my favorite posts published in January 2016:

#1: Volunteering at a Cambodian Orphanage

Cute Cambodian boy

#2: 4 Tips For Learning Bahasa Indonesia FAST

 traditional javanese wedding

Continue scrolling to read more of my latest blogposts!😀

Seoul Jjimdak: Good Food, Decent Prices, Free WiFi

Seoul Jjimdak City Square Mall

Korean food that suits the local palate @ Seoul Jjimdak (Pictures courtesy of Hearted Moments Photography)

I first visited Seoul Jjimdak at City Square Mall last month and found out that the local boss of this Korean eatery has a real estate background just like I do. This time round, I managed to meet him in person and while there’s much to chat about the sluggish property market, I found that Anthony has a lot to share about staff retention and welfare. This is probably why service is good here.🙂 If you’re at the City Square Mall / Little India area and want to enjoy decent food at reasonable prices, with free wifi, head to Seoul Jjimdak at the fifth level of City Square Mall. It’s right next to the cinema.

Also, please do not misunderstand: Jjimdak is not a duck dish… it is actually braised CHICKEN.😀 For some 30-odd dollars, you get a huge serving pan of the chicken dish which you can enjoy, communal style, with friends.

The Seoul Jjimdak (braised chicken) was still as good as what we enjoyed a month ago (thumbs up for consistency) and I suppose it tasted even better this time with the addition of cheese (I have to thank my pal for the suggestion). Also, the appetizers now feature egg and cucumber too. You’ll definitely want to ask for top-ups!😀 (*Tip: if you have a cough, like I do, order a cup of their hot citron – it’s rather soothing)

Seoul Jjimdak Steamed Egg

As mentioned earlier, I was impressed by what Anthony had to share regarding staff retention. I’m thankful that he let me pick his brains for a bit as I know that it’s very tough to hire staff for the F&B industry, and I wanted to find out what he’s been doing well HR-wise so other bosses reading this post can learn too.🙂

Anthony shared that while some of his staff have followed him from his previous work / ventures, for this current Korean food joint, he is happy about the ‘hype’ surrounding Korean food and pop culture. He believes that more people would be willing to work in a Korean restaurant versus a Western one as the environment is attractive (listen to nice Korean songs while working, enjoy the food tasting sessions, etc).

On top of that, on the topic of (new) competitors, Anthony said “You can copy my recipe, but you can’t copy my culture.” And what is this culture that he’s talking about?

For one, he brought his staff with him to Korea for a week to understand the Korean culture. For many of them, it was their first trip overseas. When he ventures into other upcoming F&B businesses, his staff will also get to visit other countries. Also, the staff get to try all the food at Seoul Jjimdak, and this helps them become more confident in making recommendations to customers. They are also paid well and receive AWS (i.e. 13th month payment). [I didn’t confirm this with the staff, so I’ll just take Anthony’s word for it :D] What I think is most commendable is that staff at Seoul Jjimdak are empowered to make decisions on their own. For instance, if a pancake gets burnt, they trash it, they don’t serve it.

Even for new staff, as long as they follow Anthony’s three steps, they “should be fine”…

  1. Repeat the Order
  2. Ensure there’s no empty glass – there are transparent carafes for water. (Customers can help themselves to the water. Wait staff will refill the carafe when they see that it’s empty.)
  3. Check back to ensure everything is ok

It was supposed to be a simple meal with my pals, but I’m glad that meeting the boss of Seoul Jjimdak gave me an insight into good HR practices.🙂

If you’d like to try the Korean food served at Seoul Jjimdak, simply pop by City Square Mall (located above the Farrer Park MRT station). If you’re lucky, you might meet the warm and welcoming boss, Anthony.

Compass One: Chef Wai’s Noodle Bar 樂牛 LeNu 私房面家

CompassOne Le Nu Chef Wai Noodle Bar

Lured by the brilliant advertising at its storefront, I popped into Le Nu at Compass One for lunch. In the picture above, you see their Braised Soft Pork Bone with Scallion Noodles (non-spicy version) and Long Jing Tea Lava Egg. I like this mini restaurant as they have a row of seats (Japanese-style) for those dining alone, like I did. A good plus is there’s no service charge – at least I didn’t see it reflected on my bill.😀 Located at level 3 of the mall that was used to be known as Compass Point, I think LeNu (why not LeNiu since it’s 樂牛 in Chinese?) is a welcome addition to the mall!

Food-wise, I liked the Long Jing Tea Lava Egg ($1.80 per egg) that you see above. And the pork bones are pretty good too (tender and flavorful). You can even order the Braised Soft Pork Bone with Scallion (4pcs) as a side dish for $5.80 if you don’t want it in soup or with noodles. For the noodle dishes, you have a choice of noodle: Rice Noodle, Thick Vermicelli or La Mian. The noodle dish I ordered cost $10.80 and it’s a nice meal for when the weather is cold.🙂

Next time, I’m gonna try their Braised Wagyu Beef Noodles ($14.80). As for drinks, I recommend bringing your own bottle of water, as a bottle here will cost $2 before tax.

Compass One food Le Nu

As one of Paradise Group’s restaurants, LeNu is likely to offer a pleasant dining experience each time you visit. I noted that some tables also had bag stands. I simply set my bag down on the unoccupied seat next to mine!😀 If you’re popping by on a weekday (non-PH), it should be very easy to get a table and with no need to queue. I’m not too sure about weekends though.😀

Le Nu is located at #03-05/06 Compass One. Tel: 6487 9489.

What Dementia Reveals About Us As Children

NTUC Health Silver Circle

Nurse He Li Jun (center) chatting with one of the clients at NTUC Health’s Silver Circle Senior Care Centre [Pictures courtesy of Hearted Moments Photography]

Dementia has memorably been portrayed in Channel 8 dramas by actors playing the pitiful-looking senior who repeatedly says “给我一点吃的吧” (“Give me something to eat”) even though he/she has already eaten, who goes missing after wandering out of the family home, or who views family members as unrecognizable strangers. But what is dementia, really? And if you are unable to care for your family member who has dementia, who can you “outsource” the care-giving to?

Dementia cases are on the rise in Singapore (by 2030, some 80,000 people aged 60 and above would suffer from it) and so, when I was offered the opportunity to ‘job shadow’ a nurse who works with elderly clients (some of whom have been diagnosed with dementia), I jumped at the opportunity to find out more about this illness which 1 in 10 of our elderly folks suffer from. Nurse He Li Jun shared more than just tips for caregivers, but also gave me an insight into her job and the importance of maintaining healthy parent-child relationships.

I was told that some people send their parents to these centres and when the nurses ask them about their parents’ likes, dislikes and hobbies, the children are clueless. Some might say “My mother is a housewife; she has no hobbies” and the nurses go on to discover that the elderly lady loves to sing and write, etc. And the children get a surprise when they discover their parent’s beautiful singing or stunning penmanship. What does this say about the state of our parent-child relationships these days? Would YOU be one of these clueless children?😉

By the way, if you think dementia is a “normal” part of ageing, think again. Nurse Li Jun emphatically pointed out to me that dementia is anything but normal – it is a brain-related illness, and it leads to memory loss, changes in personality and even a decline in intellectual ability. An early diagnosis can be very helpful in combating (but not curing, sadly) this illness.

Nurse Li Jun is one of many outstanding individuals who are employed by NTUC Health to care for the seniors at their various centres. NTUC Health runs 12 Silver Circle day and senior care centres in Singapore. I visited the centre in Jurong West which has just over 60 clients and was greeted by a sight I did not expect:

NTUC Health Silver Circle Jurong

The centre was very well-lit with ample sunlight coming in from the windows. The sofas and dining area chairs are in bright, cheery colors and there were makeshift ‘stalls’ with items the elderly would recall from their youth. On the walls are sensory boards with items like cooking utensils and various kinds of fabric. New clients often gravitate to these sensory boards with items that are familiar to them, and this helps them settle into the ‘new’ environment. Those who like caring for their grandchildren will also take to the dolls prepared for them – apparently cradling these dolls in their arms help calm them.

And if you’re wondering, nope I did not encounter anyone who came up to us with the plea of “给我一点吃的吧” but I did meet one gentleman who kept asking me “how many brothers and sisters you have at home?” – I would provide him my answer, he’d talk about something else, and then he’d ask me the same question again. Nurse Li Jun told me that he is known for having a bad temper (which I did not get to experience, thankfully), likes to sit on the same sofa everyday and not participate in group activities, likes to tell her that he wants to marry her (and yes, I witnessed that happen), and that he might sometimes watch people walk past him and critique their appearance (oh dear).

Throughout it all, the nurse was full of good cheer, very patient and it was clear to me that keeping their clients happy and healthy is of utmost importance to the staff at Silver Circle. Watching the supposedly-fiery gentleman looking almost bashful as Nurse told him “I treat you to lunch, ok?”, I realized that it is possible to provide good care to people who suffer from dementia. You just need lots of patience, a good sense of humor, and the ability to cajole, comfort and convince them you have their best interests at heart. One elderly lady was invited to help out in the pantry to towel-dry some already very clean and dry cutlery because she will say she wants to go home if she’s not occupied with a task. Of course, when they return home, they may have forgotten what went on during the day, and tell their family members that the centre provided neither food nor activities for them.😀 (This is why the centre has to sometimes take photographs to show ‘proof’ that their clients are fed, engaged and generally well cared for)

During my half-day at the centre, I watched some seniors play mahjong, sing 月亮代表我的心 (a Teresa Teng classic), and participate in various activities. Some of them are suspected to have dementia, but the condition is not formally diagnosed.

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Nurse Li Jun shared with me 5 tips for people with elderly folks at home who have either been diagnosed with dementia or who are suspected to be showing early signs of dementia…

Silver Circle

  1. Get an early diagnosis. Treatment can help slow down the progress of dementia.
  2. Validate feelings, not facts. Even if the patient is saying something which doesn’t make sense, it’s ok as long as he/she is happy.
  3. Be patient and spend time with your parents. Get to know their likes and dislikes, their hobbies, etc.
  4. Keep your home safe for the elderly. For those who like to cook, it can be dangerous if they leave the cooking unattended.
  5. Caregivers need rest too. In a week, schedule 2 to 3 days for breaks. Even a half-day respite would be most beneficial. Thus, Silver Circle centres provide ‘respite care’ for seniors who come in two to three times a week; during this time, their caregivers can take a break.

Silver Circle Jurong

In the picture above, you see the elderly folks participating in a group song / exercise activity. Many of these seniors are wheelchair-bound, and they reach the centre via a van which can take up to 6 wheelchairs at a time. Starting from 7.15am, the van ferries batch after batch of these elderly clients to the centre and work begins for Nurse Li Jun and her colleagues. There are about 16 staff at this centre and only 2 of them are foreigners. Nurse Li Jun herself hails from Hubei, China, and she has been working and living in Singapore for 18 years. I was particularly impressed by how proficient she is at reading and conversing in English. English language proficiency is definitely a prerequisite for her job as she has to do an assessment for each client, and the assessment can be 30 to 40 pages long. It’ll cover the client’s medical history, “life story”, etc in detail.

Silver Circle Day Care

Patients with dementia might have trouble with various aspects of daily living. Here, the nurse helps him button his shirt correctly.

Nurse Li Jun used to work at NUH (she spent 8 years there) and her current job at Silver Circle can involve anything from assisted feeding, diaper changing, to dressing of wounds. And even though each client has a nametag with his/her name, picture and other details, the nurses know them all by name, and regularly communicate among themselves regarding which clients to particularly look out for each day.

For instance, there is a client with dementia who is prone to hoarding. He would frequently attempt to bring items from the centre home. Nurses have found him taking toilet paper as well as food home in the bag he brings with him to the centre. And when he arrives at the centre, he’ll look for newspaper. I asked if it’d be a good idea to simply prepare a copy for him. But the nurse told me that it’s better that he walks around looking for newspaper and in the process, communicate with the staff.

All in all, I think Silver Circle staff are very creative in the way they engage their elderly clients (with or without dementia) and appear to be a special breed of people who have superhuman patience. Looking after 1 person with dementia is tough enough. But they care for over 60 seniors in one centre. Thankfully, they also have a passionate group of volunteers who help in the day-to-day operations.

To support the efforts of the staff, their employer also has to be understanding towards their needs. For instance, Nurse Li Jun shared with me that working at NTUC Health has been a joy and a relief for her as she was allowed to work part-time, half-day or 4-day weeks when she has to take care of her two young children. These flexi-work arrangements are definitely helpful for those with kids, and even for those without kids but who simply require adequate breaks to rest and recharge.

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Do you have friends who lament about how tired they constantly are now that they have kids? If you have children of your own, do you remember how taxing it is to care for them and how prone they are to asking certain questions incessantly? I think there are similarities when it comes to caring for children and caring for elders with dementia. And in both cases, you have to be extra patient while being very observant as their moods, and even their likes and dislikes can change from day to day. And above all, take some time out of your busy schedule to really get to know your parents as people. Because there is a possibility that one day, they may not remember you due to dementia, but you should be able to recall what their hobbies are, what life experiences they’ve shared with you, and when the nurse has to complete the 30 to 40 page assessment with your input, it should be a breeze and not a bother.

5 Must-Try Bar Bites @ Caffé B, Marina Bay Sands

Caffe B Marina Bay Sands

I had lunch with love and my photographer pal yesterday at Caffé B, Marina Bay Sands. I don’t usually visit MBS for food because it’s rather pricey there (even “economical” rice, or cai fan, at the foodcourt, can easily cost upwards of S$10, three times what you’ll pay elsewhere). So I was pleasantly surprised to find that there’s a Japanese Italian fine-dining restaurant which serves really tasty food at decent prices. And they all cost S$24 or less! Of course, these are quick bites which will go really well with the fine wine selection at this restaurant.🙂 With comfortable seats, pristine white tablecloths and gorgeous chandeliers, the ambiance in the restaurant deserves top marks. It’s a pretty posh setting that is perfect for date nights, so… how’s the food fare?

First up, here’s the *drumroll*… BEEF CHEEK!😀

Caffe B Beef Cheek Patty

Let’s just say that if I had time/money for just one item on the menu, it’d be beef cheek. Hehe! I’m a huge fan of this dish. I think the Beef Cheek Patty ($19) has been slow-cooked to perfection. I like the pairing with beet root on top too!🙂 Order this! Portion size is just right for one person, so tell your fellow diners to order their own.😀 If you’d like some wine, you can pair this with the Vignamaggio Gherardino Chianti Classico DOCG 2013.

Caffe B Smoked Salmon on Almond Biscuit

I don’t usually eat smoked salmon because of health reasons but what’s served here is really good. The smoked salmon has been marinated with garlic, italian parsley and extra virgin olive oil, and doesn’t taste too salty. It sits atop almond biscuits that are sweet, chunky and offer really good ‘bite’. I kinda fell in love when I bit into this. I know it’s a fancy restaurant and all, and the location is MBS, but just pick this up with bare hands and sink your teeth into it. My pal insisted on sawing away at the biscuit with knife and fork, and I think he missed out on the yummy crunch you’ll only get if you bite off a large chunk yourself. Definitely order the Smoked Salmon on Almond Biscuit ($15).

Caffe B Miso Chilean White Cod Burger

It’s been a while since I’ve tasted cod in a burger. This Miso Chilean White Cod Burger ($19) comes with marinated cubes of cod coated with miso (can’t really taste it though), egg, mirin and bread crumbs. You’ll probably also love the caramelized onion like I did. Together with cheese, tomato and gherkin (a pickle), it is one burger you’ll want to order again on your next visit.

Caffe B Beef Tripe Burger

Truth be told, I did not expect the Beef Tripe Burger ($20) to be delicious. But I knew my love would relish this kind of culinary ‘adventure’. Beef tripe comes from the lining of a cow’s stomach (how erm… appetizing) and in this burger, it tastes spicy, tender and overall, quite yummy.

And finally, since we’re on the topic of burgers, there’s the Wagyu Rump Beef Burger ($24)

Caffe B Wagyu Rump Beef Burger

The beef is very well-seasoned and tender, and the burger (or slider, if you will) is just the right size for ladies on a diet (i.e. me) or those who want to have a ‘burger’ yet still have enough stomach space for other items on the menu. Great for sharing if you’re on a date – one for you, and one for me. Gets tricky when you have three people.😀

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Caffe B Menu

Apart from the 5 items I’ve recommended above, there’s also the Chicken & Japanese Leek Skewers ($14), Crispy Maguro Tacos ($15) and the Deep Fried Potato Skin ($16) that you may want to try. Personally, I do not fancy chicken skewers nor tacos, but since my dining companions like them, I’d say the taste is very much a matter of preference. As for the potato skin that comes with a blend of Chili Con Carne, it both smells and tastes fantastic. Not too sure if I’d pay $16 for potato and chili, but I’m sure other people won’t mind.

If you’re at Marina Bay Sands and you want good wine and tasty food to go along with it, pop by Caffé B at B1-15. Tel: 6887 3311.

ASUS ZenFone 3: Media Launch at 313@Somerset

ASUS Zenfone 3

I attended the media launch for the ASUS ZenFone 3 recently and while I’ve yet to review the phones personally, I have the phone specs you’ll want to know about. Also, the final section in this blogpost will involve my take on whether the mall (313@Somerset) is a suitable venue for hosting media launches of products like mobile phones. So read on…🙂

The Zenfone 3 comes in 3 colors, and there are a total of 3 models: there’s Zenfone 3, Zenfone 3 Deluxe and Zenfone 3 Ultra.

Let’s start with the basic model: ZenFone 3.

Available in 3 colors (Moonlight White, Shimmer Gold and Sapphire Black), the Zenfone 3 comes in 2 variants: 5.2 inch and 5.5 inch. The retail price (w/o contract) is S$398 and S$498 respectively. It’s available at all 3 telcos, ASUS Authorized resellers and ASUS Brand Stores.

Why I’d consider buying it: 77.3% screen-to-body ratio, 3GB RAM/32GB Storage, 16MP ASUS PixelMaster 3.0 Camera, 8MP 85deg wide-angle front camera – all for a reasonable price of $398 w/o contract.

Then there’s the ZenFone 3 Deluxe

Available in 2 colors (Sand Gold and Glacier Silver), the ZenFone 3 Deluxe will be available in late-September. The retail price is S$998 and S$1188.

Why I’d consider buying it: 79% screen-to-body ratio, 6GB RAM/64GB and 256GB UFS 2.0 storage, 23MP ASUS PixelMaster 3.0 Camera.

And finally, the ZenFone 3 Ultra

The phone costs S$778 (w/o contract) at ASUS Authorized resellers and ASUS Brand Stores.

Why you’d probably buy it: 4K UHD TV-grade video processor, 6.8-inch Full HD Display, 4600mAh battery which charges to 60% in 45 minutes and also functions as a power bank.

My take on the new phones: I’m overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the choices available. Such that I’d postpone my buying decision. Including the variants and color choices, there are probably 8 phones or more to choose from. It’s like having different versions of the iPhone launched at the same time – I won’t know which to buy. It’s probably easier to launch just one phone and call it the ‘best’ one at that point in time. Easier for me to make a decision to buy too.

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ASUS ZenFone 3 Media Launch

I don’t usually pop by 313@Somerset for media launches, so this particular ASUS one might be the first (if my memory serves me well). There’s one main advantage of picking the mall for a media launch: the very accessible-location (just above an MRT station in town) means the turnout will be pretty good. *This is especially important since people aren’t being paid to show up and cover the launch.

In comparison with a previous ASUS launch that I attended, I noted three points:

(1) Everything has to be done ‘in public’

Unlike a previous launch held in a function room, you can’t conduct rehearsals out of the public eye. As I was there early (as I always am), I noted how the models wore skin-baring dresses with thigh-high (almost crotch level) splits. One eventually had to pin up the slit with a handful of safety pins.

What’s great is that the shoppers in the mall also get to know about the new phones while you’re introducing it to the media. And this also means that they help themselves to the buffet spread too, if you don’t ‘fence’ up the area. The upside: no food gets wasted.

(2) What you say might be heard throughout the mall

Behind closed doors in a function room or ballroom, one can make comparisons between a product and a competitor’s product. But out in a shopping mall, it might not be wise to openly state how a phone is superior to what is currently the #1-selling phone in Singapore (and possibly the world).

Likewise, it’s probably better not to state that the media get special freebies which the public won’t get… out in public. Yes, it *might* tempt some friends from the media to purchase the phones but people listening in might feel somewhat discriminated against. And with the microphones on, it’s unlikely that they can’t hear you.

(3) Put your new phones in the hands of the media, or they’ll use their own phones

I looked around me to see how many people were using ASUS phones, and only spotted one. The rest were using (you guessed it) iPhones, Samsung phones (yup, me too) and even a Sony one. Even the so-called ambassadors of the brand (probably on social media, not the official print and digital ambassadors) were using their own phones instead of ASUS phones. Yet they were still called up to the front to describe how much they enjoyed the ASUS experience. (Not enough to get an ASUS phone?)

I wondered how difficult it would be to let media friends have an ASUS phone in their hands while they attended the launch. They’ll take pictures using the new ASUS creation, upload them to social media and perhaps even buy it after. Sure, there’s an ‘experience corner’ but those are available at telcos and authorized resellers too. How about an experience just for the media?

*Finally, I’m left wondering whether it’s the ZenFone with capital ‘F’ or the Zenfone, as its usage is not quite consistent.

Interview with Swati Joshi, Author and CEO of Influenshine

Swati Joshi Influenshine

1) You are an engineer by training so how did you discover your passion lies in business and marketing? What prompted you to start your digital marketing firm, Influenshine?

I like to think of myself as a versatile person, and that I can become whatever I want to be. As a teenager from a small town in India trying to decide my future career path, I could only think of engineering as a profession that could lead to a feasible career and my desired lifestyle. I got into the best engineering university in India (Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur) through a lot of hard work and then joined a big corporation which allowed me to travel the world. Throughout my corporate journey, I felt I had much untapped potential. I knew I had more to give to the world. After meeting my husband, I found myself drawn further into his expertise areas of business and marketing.

While I was pregnant in 2015, I thought about the direction in which my life was going and the legacy I was going to leave. That’s when I first thought of taking matters into my own hands and starting my own company. Influenshine serves several businesses based in Asia and helps them enhance their digital presence. It is my way of starting to make an impact on the world.

2) What were the main challenges you faced in starting your company, and now in growing it?

The most challenging thing when I started the company was wearing multiple hats at the same time. It was daunting and time-consuming. But as the founder I wanted to get my hands dirty and be involved in every aspect of the company. I have now formed a team which can take care of many aspects of the business. Now the main challenge for me is find the best people who will take the company and the practice of digital marketing to the next level.

3) Which are your most memorable experiences of working with clients on their digital strategy? 

I love the part when clients are amazed at the reach they can get through digital campaigns. Traditionally, you could take out an ad in a magazine or newspaper for a few thousand dollars and hope for the best. But with digital ads, you can measure exactly how many people saw your campaign, clicked on it or took action. Clients are often pleasantly surprised at how much more cost effective this strategy is. It feels great to be able to craft campaigns that perform better than their expectations.

4) As a wife, mother, author and entrepreneur, what are your top time management tips?

Firstly, prioritize and delegate. If somebody else can do a task better than you can, give it to them. I try to get as much help as possible (that I can afford!) to help me both at home and at work. I try to focus on the ‘quality’ part instead of trying to do it all. It helps me keep my sanity!

Secondly, learn to use technology to help you. I list down my daily, weekly and long-term tasks and priorities, and save everything on my online calendar. I dedicate time slots for my work, and for my personal life. Everything from my client meetings, brainstorming for my next blog post to my daughter’s swim class is on my calendar. That way I don’t miss anything.

Thirdly, learn to say ‘No’ without being sorry about it. Saying ‘No’ to certain things means you are prioritizing and taking control of your time. Don’t let others waste your time if you can help it. Meetings can be a big time-sucker too – replace one with a phone call if it isn’t necessary.

5) You are also a blogger and you contribute articles to sites such as The Huffington Post. How did you get started with writing for The Huffington Post and which articles have gotten the most support from the online community?

Earlier this year, I decided to write more. I have always loved writing – I used to write and edit for my school and college publications. I started writing on LinkedIn, and to reach a bigger audience, I also decided to submit an article to the editors at The Huffington Post. They liked my article and set me up as a Contributor. I have written about 8 articles for them so far, and have always been amazed at the response I get and the number of tweets and mentions after each article. It has helped me reach a wider audience and I love publishing on their platform. The article that was ‘shared’ the most is about Video marketing, and I guess it really echoed the sentiments of the online community which is beginning to realize the potential of videos as a marketing tool.

6) Which are the books, people and/or movies that have made the biggest impact on your life?

I think there are too many to list! I learn so much from the books I read and the people I meet. I grew up reading a lot of science fiction, so technology has always been an area of interest. Of late I have been reading books about business and marketing – a few books which have stayed with me are: Good to Great, Made to Stick, Purple Cow and Zero to One.

7) You wrote the book ‘Untangling the Web: Developing a blueprint for Digital Marketing‘. Who should read it, and what edge does this book have over other existing books on Digital Marketing?

I got my understanding of digital marketing from many different sources. There’s a lot of information out there, yet it’s all scattered and fragmented, and isn’t structured well for the brain to process at one go. My book aims to give readers a concise overview of digital marketing, and help them derive the understanding and confidence needed to make decisions regarding business growth and strategy using digital marketing techniques. I try to take away some of the mystery behind the jargon, and help people gain a quick understanding of online marketing. So the book is ideal for owners of small and medium-sized businesses, entrepreneurs, and new marketing executives who want to grasp the fundamentals of digital marketing to enable them to make better decisions.

8) Which top (possibly international) brand would you like to have as your client, and how would you assist the company in doing even better?

I would love to work with a company like Unilever. They have an amazing leader in Paul Polman who believes in purpose and sustainability. He also has goals of increasing the company’s social impact, and I find that admirable. I would love to craft more stories around the company’s efforts in minimizing its environmental footprint and doing social good. We need more of such corporate stories!

9) You help companies craft their brand story. What is your personal brand story?

My personal brand story is about creating an impact, driven by passion and determination. Even since my childhood, I have always been passionate about stories and ideas, i.e. content, and how it influences minds and changes the world. I am determined to create top notch content that inspires and moves people. I believe I can empower business-owners and professionals, especially women like myself, to achieve greater success through the use of technology and powerful content. I would like to create more success stories through the knowledge I have acquired and through my wonderful team at Influenshine!

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For a limited period starting from 3rd September 2016, you can download Swati’s new book for FREE here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LB07VCM

Snowskin Mooncake Recipe: Mango Vodka and Pandan Rose Wine

Snowskin Mooncake Recipe

Do you like snowskin, traditional (baked) or flaky skinned mooncakes? I have a soft spot for snowskin mooncakes and especially ice cream mooncakes (like Swensen’s sticky chewy chocolate mooncakes!) but I’ve never really found out what went into making them. How come it doesn’t require baking? Are we eating ‘raw’ flour?! What other ingredients go into making snowskin and the filling? To find out, I attended a class to learn how to make Mango Vodka Snowskin and Pandan Rose Wine Snowskin mooncakes. In this post, I’ll share the recipe with you. (*Do note that you can tweak the recipe to your own liking, e.g. replace certain ingredients with your favorites)

For the Pandan Snowskin Mooncake, ingredients required are:

150g of Cooked Glutinous Rice Flour a.k.a Gao Fen (糕粉)

180g of Icing Sugar

40g of Shortening

and 170g of Pandan Water (bring pandan leaves and about 500g of water to a boil for about 5 minutes) *No-alcohol version: 170g of pandan water. *Alcohol version: use less water and add the alcohol of your choice to make 170g in total.

As for the Filling, use 1kg of Pandan Lotus Paste, and add any seeds of your choice e.g. sunflower seeds or some almond flakes if you like those.

Method: 

  1. Make a dough from the flour, icing sugar, shortening and pandan water. (Machine-assisted or by hand)
  2. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes in the fridge.
  3. Depending on the size of your mooncake mould, decide on the amount of dough for the snowskin and paste for the filling. This particular mould works with 30g of filling and 30g of dough for the skin.
  4. Flatten 30g of dough between two sheets of plastic, using a rolling pin.
  5. Wrap the ball of pandan lotus paste within the flattened dough ‘skin’.
  6. Press the dough into the mould and remove.
  7. Leave the mooncakes in the fridge.

For the Mango Vodka version, instead of 170g of pandan water, use 75g mango puree, 75g mango juice and 20g of mango wine.

*You can make mooncakes in other interesting flavors too. Try red wine, ribena, chocolate (add more water if you’re using chocolate), coffee wine, etc. It’s up to your imagination!😀

 Tips from the teacher:

  1. Buy flour that’s from Korea or Japan if you prefer a ‘finer’ texture for the snowskin. Otherwise, it might be more ‘QQ’ (springy).
  2. Wear gloves when making these mooncakes as they don’t require baking (which has high temperatures to kill germs).
  3. The mooncake filling must not get into contact with flour otherwise it’ll not ‘gel’ well with the snowskin, and there’ll be a gap between the two, adversely affecting taste.
  4. When you’re rolling the pandan filling into a ball, before wrapping it in the ‘skin’, roll it till the outer surface of the pandan filling ball becomes visibly oily.
  5. Adding wine into the recipe apparently helps make the mooncake tastier and keeps it staying fresh longer.
  6. You can get Rose Wine a.k.a. Mei Gui Lu (玫瑰露) at NTUC FairPrice stores.
  7. Snowskin mooncakes have to be refrigerated or else the ‘oil’ from the shortening will seep out of the mooncake.
  8. The majority of ingredients are from Kwong Cheong Thye Pte Ltd: 61-63 Lorong 27 Geylang Off Sims Avenue, Singapore 388187. Tel: 6748 0128.

What To Eat At Sengkang Compass One

Sengkang Compass One

Sengkang Compass One on (Re)Opening Day, 1st Sept 2016 (Copyright: Hearted Moments Photography)

Are all the shops at Sengkang’s Compass One open? No. Should you visit anyway? Yes. Sengkang’s Compass One opened to much fanfare this morning at 10am. And I was one of those “don’t-need-to-work” folks who thronged the mall in search of all things new and sparkly. (In my defense, blogging is work too). I was in search of eateries and restaurants that I’ve missed since CompassPoint shut for renovation (and a change of management) and those which are not available at Waterway Point currently. And you’ll be surprised at what I ended up picking for “brunch”.

First, a picture of my fellow don’t-need-to-work shoppers. Almost everyone was taking pictures of the lion dance troupe. Come to think of it, what would they do with those pictures? *shrug*

Sengkang Compass One mall

In this post, I’ll share with you three categories for the food places you might want to visit at Sengkang Compass One:

#1: Food You Simply Have To Try (For Bragging Rights)

eyescream and friends singapore

If you are a fan of shaved ice, you might be happy to note that there’s now shaved gelato too! Located at B1-42, ‘eyescream & friends’ hails from Barcelona and is now ready to tickle your tastebuds! There are 7 flavors to choose from: Vanilla, Chocolate, Yoghurt, Strawberry, Cheesecake, Wildberry Yoghurt and Mango. Just a bowl of ‘eyescream’ costs $4.90. Add $2 and get 2 toppings (such as gummy bears and marshmallows) to go with it.

*Tip: The staff told me their favs are Cheesecake, Yoghurt and Mango. So I picked Cheesecake, and it was GOOD!

Lollipops are at $4.90 each while you can get gelato shakes at $5.90…

eyescream and friends compass one

There’s also Maki-San (not open yet) which I so want to eat again, Royal London Duck (is it the same as London Fat Duck at Waterway Point?!), and many more that have not been unveiled.

#2: Food You Won’t Need To Travel So Far For Anymore

Pine Garden Compass One

The Pine Garden (that famous cake shop in AMK) and its sister company Next Door Deli will open soon at Compass One. It states on the temporary hoarding that it’s opening in August 2016 but it’s evidently not ready for business yet. I guess good things are always worth the wait. I’ll be back!🙂 There’s also Ayam Penyet Ria (#01-34), Gurney Drive Signatures (#03-13), etc.

#3: Old Favorites That You’ve Missed

MOS Burger Sengkang Compass One

Yup, I ate a MOS Burger meal for brunch today. Staff were giving out fliers with a ‘FREE french fries’ tear-out coupon. This is the reason why some people like myself visit malls on opening day even though we know it’ll be crowded: FREEBIES! Yup, we had free llao llao samples, there were balloons given out, popcorn too, and various stalls had their own Opening Day promotions.

If you’ve missed Canton Paradise, Soup Restaurant, Yoshinoya, etc, like I have, well, THEY ARE BACK!😀

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As you might probably notice in this picture below, some shops still have their pink and blue (and a couple other colors) temporary hoardings up. But I guess this soft launch is great for Sengkang residents who have been holding their breath waiting for the mall to re-open. I understand their joy because I waited years for a mall like Waterway Point to finally sprout up in Punggol too.😀

When Waterway Point first opened to the public, I had a meal at Pizza Hut. Simply because everywhere else was crowded. With Compass One, I guess I just missed MOS Burger a little and some of the restaurants and eateries I want to visit aren’t open yet.

So… I guess I’ll be back again very soon! ~

Sengkang Compass One previously CompassPoint

GroVe: Vegetarian Food at Waterway Point, Punggol (Part One)

GroVe Waterway Point

Waterway Point has been open for about 7 months now, and I’ve only just visited this eatery selling vegetarian food this week. I think I hesitated for SO LONG because I’m not the biggest fan of vegetarian, and especially vegan, food. Sometimes I just love meat and things like salmon sashimi (*sigh*). Having popped by GroVe at Waterway Point though, I think I just may have a few more vegetarian meals in the coming months!

If you haven’t already realized, vegetarian and vegan food are less taxing on your digestive system. The same burger + fries + drink combo would leave you feeling heavy and full if it’s not a vegetarian meal. The vegetarian version simply leaves you feeling pleasantly satiated, and it’s unlikely that you’ll experience a ‘food coma’.

This was what I experienced at GroVe.

I ordered a new item on their menu: the Hawaiian Teriyaki Burger with Fries ($8.80) and added a dollar for their original milk tea (there’s a version with peach, which I’ll try next time).

The burger buns were so soft and fluffy, the pineapple very juicy, and the fries were hot and crispy without being oily (I was so impressed!) The ‘patty’ itself has the same texture as luncheon meat! Go slice through it with a knife and you’ll see what I mean. Incredible! *Of course, this is processed food too. So I wouldn’t say it’s extremely healthy.

As for the drink, I was blown away by how similar it was to Koi’s milk tea. Just add the ‘pearls’, I guess, and it can pass off as Koi bubble tea. Apparently the drink is from the brand Utopia, which hails from Australia. I’ll definitely need to get another cup, since the $1 top-up makes the drink cheaper than those from Koi or GongCha.😀

*GroVe has a weekday promotion: Value Meals at $9.80 with a choice of Peach Tea or Plum Green Tea. Mains are: Smoky BBQ Burger w/Fries (Monday), Oyster Mushroom Cream Pasta (Tuesday), Potato Baked Rice w/Japanese Curry Sauce (Wednesday), Kung Pao Monkey-Head Mushroom Noodle (Thursday) and Sweet & Sour Monkey Head Mushroom Rice (Friday). *Not valid on Public Holidays.

You can find GroVe / Utopia at #02-20/21, Waterway Point. It’s located next to the foodcourt, and opposite Buddy Hoagies.

5 Reasons To Sign Up For Sky Premium Membership

Sky Premium Singapore Media Briefing

Bluefin Tuna Cutting Ceremony @ Sky Premium’s Media Briefing

I attended Sky Premium’s media briefing this afternoon, and wow, I think this ‘membership services club’ might be something worth investing in. It’ll be launched in Q4 this year, and while there’s not a ton of information available at this moment, from what I saw today, I think many people will be keen to find out more about Sky Premium. So, very quickly, here are 5 top reasons that I think would entice people to sign up:

#1: Preferential rates from esteemed brands

Sky Premium offers members exclusive privileges for travel, dining, fashion and wellness. Some of these brands include FJ Benjamin, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, etc.

Also, members can look forward to exclusive invites to closed-door events, fashion shows, sake tastings, etc. They’ll also get access to business facilities at Sky Premium’s office.

Sky Premium Membership

Maguro Sushi @ Takujo, Emporium Shokuhin

#2: Panel Advisors: Allan Wu and Tan Min-Li

Sky Premium Singapore

Allan Wu and Tan Min-Li (background)

I guess you’ll be familiar with the hunky celeb Allan Wu. I’ve never heard of Tan Min-Li before today’s event though. Apparently, the lawyer is a partner of Colin Ng & Partners LLP. She’s won multiple awards for her legal work involving Corporate M&A and Capital Markets. She is also involved in film production and fashion. Both of these style-conscious individuals will be invaluable as advisers for Sky Premium.

#3: Members’ welcome package and exclusive portal

Members of the media were informed that the welcome package is “worth more than the membership fee”. At this point, I don’t know what’s in that welcome package, but I’ll update this post when I find out.😀 If you were to sign up, you’ll also get access to the members-only privileges portal. <- I’ll be happy to check that out!

#4: Premium Member Subscription Cost: S$1,200 per year

I believe there is an “initial processing fee” which I’ve not been advised regarding. But it’s stated on the factsheet that there will be no additional processing fees as long as you keep up with your membership dues.

I believe S$1,200 per year is really quite affordable for the well-heeled in Singapore. In fact, they might even consider it really cheap. I know of some people who can easily spend that amount on just one meal. And $100 per month is even lower than membership fees at certain gyms. When there’s more information made available closer to their launch date, I’d highly recommend that you check out their website and/or make a few inquiries and find out more.🙂

#5: Helmed by General Manager, Ms Margaret Koh

She has over 10 years of experience in the luxury service sector. Prior to helming Sky Premium, she was previously associated with luxury service organizations such as Banyan Tree Private Collection, Singapore Yacht Show and Raffles Marina. I think this means that great service and quality offerings from Sky Premium are just about guaranteed.

Find out more at: http://www.skypremium.com/official/

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Pictures in this blogpost are courtesy of Hearted Moments Photography.