Slaying The Dragon In Each Of Us

Slaying The Dragon

I made sure I took a dump before writing this. So people can accuse me of many things but they cannot say I am being ‘anal-retentive’. ;)

Now, first things first. I have not read that blogpost, but concerned people around me have sent me questions regarding its contents, so I have a vague notion of what’s in that blogpost (and I do believe the writer had the good sense to consult a lawyer before uploading it so it would seem ‘milder’ as compared to blogposts uploaded years ago).

C's comment

It is true that the doctor wrote down, verbatim, what I told her in the consultation room. And it is also true that while the rest of my affidavit submitted to court was typed out and printed, I had handwritten the ‘poor sleep, headaches, and loose stools’ portion as “symptoms” of my being harassed, and some say, ‘cyber-bullied’.

I knew that anyone who wanted to embarrass, insult, torment, or simply, mock me would pounce on that ‘loose stools’ bit.

And I have been proven right.

Has anyone wondered why I wrote down those symptoms with a pen instead of having it typed out and printed? ;)

So it would be impossible to miss.

*And by the way, I’ve already shared on Facebook and Twitter that if you want to send me toilet paper, I prefer the one with Hello Kitty print on it. Don’t be a ‘cheapo’ ok? :)

~

If you have been bullied in school before, you’ll know this: The bullying doesn’t stop even if you have already shown signs of distress.

For instance, the school bully taunts Little Amy and makes her cry. Does the bullying stop there? More often than not, it doesn’t. “Oh Amy Amy, why are you crying? You’re such a crybaby! Crybaby, crybaby, crybaby!”

In adulthood, what does this translate to?

If you hand over a medical document/report to describe what you are experiencing (because now your bully doesn’t see you crying in the playground), does he/she wave it about like a victory flag? I believe you have the answer.

Come to think of it, who has never experienced ‘loose stools’ before? A more commonly used term is ‘diarrhoea’. I had the pleasure of being hosted for dinner by my Malaysian blogger pal on Wednesday night. The delicious Thai food cooked by a real Thai chef in a restaurant in KL was SO spicy that we all had loose stools by Thursday morning. I can’t say that anyone complained, because the food tasted really good – we just couldn’t stomach the ‘heat’. LOL.

Hands up if you have never had diarrhoea or loose stools before in your entire life! :D

~

Now, I have already shared in an earlier blogpost that I am no saint, I made mistakes previously in calling my hater certain unflattering names, and I have apologized for it, but the person had requested that I remove that blogpost with the public apology. So, what to do?

I have also requested that Wendy remove her blogpost. Email sent last night. Will she do it?

Wendy Cheng Email

I have never tried to be right all the time. I do only strive to be fair.

Even when I did that blogpost about how even the best bloggers lie, I made sure to state that I felt I also fail to be 100% honest 100% of the time. Because no one is capable of that. Can you be 100% honest all the time? No, so to be fair, I was not targeting any single blogger. I was stating that I, like all other bloggers, have encountered times when companies and agencies have asked us to remove the “advertorial” / “sponsored post” tag, or been asked to write about a product/service using keywords and phrases stated in the press release. In fact, I’ve been requested to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement recently to state that I cannot reveal details about one agency doing this, i.e. requesting that the blogposts don’t come with disclaimers.

Now, about kids and family members being dragged into blogger spats. I am definitely of the opinion that the innocent people not be brought into these things. And I fully respected the fact that a loving mother would want to celebrate her son’s birthday, and be there with him 100%. So, the day before the birthday, I stated publicly on my blog that I would not do anything to ruin their day if I did not hear from her. But I did hear from her. I received an email with a super-long Letter Of Demand from her lawyer (sent to me on the child’s birthday). It had excessively harsh terms, and even asked me to propose a sum of damages, which they would later want to negotiate too. In short, she wanted to sue me for “Defamation”.

It was not your typical cease-and-desist letter.

So I made the comment on my Instagram post that someone seems to care more about herself than about her child’s birthday. Simply because I had already stated I won’t say anything more about our spat, and that she could send me letters or emails or even make more comments about me on any other day. Why not just be full of love on your child’s birthday? Kids only turn age two ONCE.

Was my offer of an olive branch on a cute kid’s birthday fair? I think so. Would I want her to do such a thing for me if I have a kid and am celebrating his birthday today? Yes, I would.

You and I know that children, especially really young children, are innocent and should not be brought into any blogger spat.

Now, what about the adults at home?

Perhaps this deserves mention: I brought in the subject of her mother not because she had merely, or ‘accidentally’, hit the ‘Like’ button on her daughter’s less-than-kind comments about me. I am of the opinion that if a mother is strongly opposed to other bloggers commenting about her son, that this same mother should also be strongly opposed to her daughter’s caustic remarks about another blogger.

I believe someone old enough should also have the good sense to be fair enough, and not have double standards.

Don’t you think that’s only fair?

In any case, pardon me for not being clear enough in my affidavit about why the mother came into the picture. I am no lawyer, and have never had any legal training, and did not know I need a 37558345982391-word ‘Written Submission’ to go along with it. But now I do. ;) (*You don’t really need so many words but you get the idea. *wink* In any case, just hire a lawyer. Or if you need a template, email me and I might be able to send you one)

*As for the Protection Order (PO) + Lawyer fees, let me just state upfront that it’s no 5-figure sum. I spent approximately S$2,000 all-in, GST and all. If you need proof, email me and I can scan and send you the bills when I get back to Singapore.

If you have been harassed and need to get a protection order, here are some things to note:

1) Furnish proof of a threat of physical harm to you or your loved ones. I avoided naming imaginary stalkers or setting up hate sites just to bolster my case because I respect that whatever I submit in court has to be under oath, and you just don’t mess with such things. If you say someone is stalking you, and claim to have proof, then if he/she later shows proof of being overseas at that time, then well… you are sc***ed. And if you set up a hate site which people later trace back to you as the originator, double whammy.

2) If the Respondent you are taking out a PO against does not have a public identity (i.e. is anonymous) then it gets tricky. But get a lawyer and he/she can help you work around it.

3) If the Respondent does not show up in court, you have a higher chance of getting that PO granted.

Now, my case: My Respondent sent a lawyer to represent her, I did not state that I was being stalked/had death threats made against me/have hate sites about me that constitute a serious harm to my well-being, PLUS my Respondent had removed all her comments made about me a few days before the Pre-Trial Conference. Also, her lawyer was instructed to send me her affidavit and written submission THE DAY BEFORE the PTC, “out of goodwill”.

So the judge and I agreed that there was no longer a need for a PO since my Respondent seemed very agreeable, and even undertook not to make any further comments about me after the PTC. And so I withdrew my application for the PO. Why pay more money and go for mediation, right? Since the judge already said it’s gonna be costly to go all the way and fight for a PO, and my Respondent seems, erm… friendly?

And now… you know what happened next.

The blogpost was uploaded yesterday and my Respondent even tagged me on Instagram (a first!) so that I would be notified that she had blogged about me. RIGHT BEFORE I took to the stage at the Malaysian Social Media Week for my presentation. One can easily check the agenda online and know what time I’ll take to the stage. ;) Tun Dr Mahathir spoke just before I did, and it was definitely a ‘peak in my career as a blogger’. Did my Respondent extend the same courtesy to me, the way I did for her child’s birthday?

It was definitely not ‘gentlemanly’ (or ‘ladylike’, if you want to be anal about gender), and in Singaporean terms, definitely ‘BUAY STEADY‘.

But is Life always fair? Nope. So I’ve learnt.

~

Why the title ‘Slaying The Dragon In Each Of Us’?

Because, to be fair, all of us have a “dragon” within us. As Tun Dr Mahathir shared with us in KL yesterday, social media presents us each with opportunities to have “absolute power” and we are largely free to “irritate” people online.

This is why I have publicly admitted and apologized for using the term “pineapple blogger” (and its variations), after my Facebook follower pointed it out. I believe the term is not vulgar but could still be offending to the party on the receiving end.

I think that’s fair.

Have I received any form of apology, other than what I thought was a sincere undertaking to not make anymore “insulting, threatening or abusive” comments about me after 15th April 2015’s Pre-Trial Conference?

Nope.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I think it’s time we start to use social media responsibly. Also, I do hope for a better blogosphere.

I have learnt so much just these couple of days. And I have to thank my Malaysian blogger pal, Sock Peng, for giving me this opportunity to learn and grow. She is one of the top Mandarin bloggers in Malaysia and she often does things which make me (a Singaporean blogger) slightly puzzled.

1. When I came to Malaysia for a holiday earlier this year, she sent out a couple of emails and helped get me and my fiance sponsored accommodation. She doesn’t get paid to do this. This certainly goes beyond just taking your visitors from overseas out for dinner.

2. An advertiser contacted her regarding advertorials to promote a trendy range of bags, and she asked if I’d be keen to take on the assignment too, so people in Singapore could know about this brand which is famous in Taiwan but doesn’t have stores in Singapore (yet). And yes, I got the deal, and no, she doesn’t get paid to refer me.

3. She was involved in filming for a TV program about local food recently, and she even recommended other bloggers to the producer, and got these bloggers featured on the show too.

The way she helps support other bloggers is something I try to emulate. In fact, I had the pleasure of recommending Sock Peng to the organizers for Malaysia Social Media Week 2015 so she could join me as a fellow Speaker at this amazing event, and share about ‘Mandarin blogs’.

And I am happy to announce that she did a great job too. :)

Likewise, in Singapore, I have had the pleasure of recommending bloggers to advertisers for paid assignments. Bloggers like Alvin, Regina, Kirbie, Steven Lek and Steven Teo, Melvin, Dawn (her surname’s not Yang), Hong Peng, Joey, Rachel, etc., have received paid assignments due to my recommendations.

So I now have an announcement to make:

I no longer want to be a blogger. I want to be an author, a speaker, an anti-bullying activist. I’m not just a blogger.

I have been on both the receiving and giving ends of Bullying. Whether passive-aggressive or not, I have (and I do admit) retaliated in my own way. And if this should happen again, yes, I would urge netizens to call me out on that and say “Hey, this isn’t what an anti-bullying activist does!”

More importantly, I want to support bloggers. Because, to me, you don’t have to be in my ‘clique’ or inner circle before I’d recommend you to an advertiser of mine. If the advertiser wants to engage more bloggers but doesn’t want to take the route of paying a marketing agency for influencers, I’m always happy to link them up with bloggers I trust will do a good job of promoting their product or service.

To conclude this very long blogpost, let me just say that it’s been a great learning experience and I believe everything happens for a reason. If you ever feel like ‘shitting your pants’ in fear because a bully has come after you, you are welcome to chat with me. Honestly, I have been terrified before – ‘poking’ a dragon in the eye (or so that analogy goes) can have disastrous consequences even if you think you have brought enough ‘fire extinguishers’. Who knew what an application for a PO against a not-anonymous top-blogger-awarded-by-the-company-she-has-shares-in would bring about, since it was a first?

What have I learnt? There will always be Bullies, and there will always be Trolls. What matters most is not their attacks on you, but your response to them. Don’t let someone else’s ‘dragon’ awake the ‘dragon’ in you.

Heard about the Cherokee Legend about the ‘good wolf’ and the ‘bad wolf’? Well… I leave you with this:

[From wizdompath.wordpress.com]

One evening, an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’

The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’

What I Learnt From Meeting Tun Dr Mahathir

Dr Mahathir

I was really humbled and honored by this simple gesture: Tun Dr Mahathir held out his hand towards me for a handshake. I’d presented him with my book ‘Blogging For A Living’, and he asked if I made money from blogging. He made us all laugh when he said that he is also a blogger but doesn’t make a cent from his blog. :)

He then went on stage and wowed us all. Here are the top 3 things I learnt from Dr Mahathir:

1) Use Humor Effectively

Tun has a self-deprecating sense of humor, and he pulled off those jokes to great effect. We were cheering and laughing during his speech because he can even talk about political issues and deliver the message across in a humorous way. Of course, there were times when he spoke about other serious issues and we listened respectfully.

2) Social Media As A Knife – Wield It Well

He shared that social media is like a knife which can be used to carve out beautiful things, or it can be used to stab people in the back. It can be good for society or it can make society less ‘liveable’. “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely”, and social media gives us all “absolute power”, so we need to learn to use it wisely and judiciously.

I cannot say that I have always used social media or whatever (little) clout or influence I have wisely. Sometimes, I see nasty comments made about me, my book, my students, etc, and I take that “passive-aggressive” route and call that person certain unflattering names (but nothing crude, vulgar or excessive) on my social media accounts, knowing that the latter is not among my followers. Still, I was wrong.

3) “I Made A Mistake…”

In answering a question posed to him about Vision 2020, Tun uttered these 4 words which surprised me.

And yes, this is the approach I have taken too, for the unflattering words that I used to describe my ‘hater'; I made a public apology on my blog. And the latter has even requested that I remove the blogpost with that apology, so you won’t see it anymore.

On my part, it’s ‘case closed’. I apologized, and tried to live up to my name – Grace. For whatever mean things that were said about me, do I deserve an apology? I think so. But will I get one? I’m not hopeful.

And finally, yes, it’s incredibly childish to do a post about me after deleting all your own comments about me, and reaching an amicable settlement in court. It is definitely ‘below-the-belt’ to upload such a post AND TAG me on instagram just before I went on stage.

But I have not read the blogpost, and will not read it either. I’ll leave my lawyer pals to do that while I go have teh tarik.

Thank you for the extra blog traffic and followers on social media.

“I Take You To Be My Wife… In Sickness And In Health…”

Faizah and Farhan

I came to know about Siti (Faizah) and Farhan’s inspiring love story and decided to interview them for my blog. When Siti was diagnosed with stage-2 lymphoma, and relatives and close friends doubted their idea of marriage, Farhan disregarded the “noise” and married Siti, sticking with her through thick-and-thin.

Siti has also participated in a half marathon despite feeling weak due to chemotherapy. And she is a finisher!

Siti has since lost 20kg of the weight that she gained while undergoing chemotherapy – she goes for yoga and zumba sessions, and other fitness programmes four days a week.

Farhan has also donated his bone marrow about half a year ago and helped save the life of a patient, who was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma!

Both of them are such beautiful and courageous individuals… and here’s their story:

1) Both of you got married after Siti’s diagnosis? Why? What’s your love story? :)

Farhan: Yes, it was already planned. Siti was diagnosed in the midst of our wedding preparations and I decided to proceed as I would like to take care of her, not out of sympathy, but purely because she’s my other half and I know she needs me to fight this disease together. And I know for sure that she will fully recover, and whatever happens, I will take care of her. Not because I have to…but because I want to.

Faizah: We met at our previous workplace. We were really close although Farhan had a girlfriend back then. We had common interests and similar taste in music and food. We hung out most of the time after work and even on our off days.

Farhan: I realised that I wasn’t happy with my girlfriend back then. When I was with Faizah, everything was easy with her and everything somehow falls into place perfectly. By then we both know that we like each other. I decided to man up, break up with my ex-girlfriend (who wasn’t a good girlfriend) and be with Faizah. And the rest is history.

2) What is the chemotherapy process like?

Faizah: I had to go through chemotherapy via the intravenous (IV) route. I was told to go through 6 cycles of chemotherapy and 1 cycle consists of 2 sessions. (Imagine going through 12 sessions!). Each session is 5 hours long and I was required to be treated once every 2 weeks. I was injected with 4 different combinations of drugs (2 injected via huge syringes and 2 bags via the drip).

Nurses had to be careful when administering 1 of the drugs from the syringes as it might burn my veins, which actually happened during the first session of my 2nd cycle and it was a horrible feeling. It took a while for the pain to subside and for my veins to recover.

The worst was yet to come.

The side effects kicked in on the 7th day after every session. Each individual who is undergoing chemotherapy will experience different side effects. I was quite lucky, as my side effects were considered quite minor. I had constipation for the first few days, heatiness in the mouth (thankfully, no ulcers!), upper back pain and at the shoulder area (which lasted for about 3-4days), bloatedness (from the anti-vomit meds), indigestion, weight gain and hair loss (not all but probably ¾ of my hair and this was a huge blow for me as I was afraid my hair will not grow in time for the wedding).

3) What would you say to encourage people who have been (recently) diagnosed with lymphoma?

Don’t give up hope. I know it’s easy for me to say it but you have got to keep pressing on and always stay positive. Cancer is not the end. It can be a start to an awesome life. :)

4) What would your advice be to the friends and family members of people who have been (recently) diagnosed with lymphoma?

Make them feel normal and do normal things. Don’t treat them like a sick person and always, always be there when they need you. Accepting the fact that they have cancer is already hard, so don’t make things harder for them and always stay positive no matter what.

5) What was your bone marrow donation process like? Please give us all the gory details, if any, so we can be adequately prepared if we choose to be donors.

Farhan: There is nothing gory about my bone marrow donation process. In fact, you are given two options as to how the bone marrow is extracted.

Method 1: Bone Marrow Harvest

The bone marrow is removed from the back of the pelvic bone using a special needle. The entire process takes 45 to 60 minutes whilst the donor is under general anesthetic (GA). Although there is no surgery involved, after a GA it is recommended that the donor stays overnight to rest in the hospital and goes home the following morning. The amount of bone marrow harvested is less than 5% of the body’s marrow and this is naturally regenerated within 4-6 weeks.

Side Effects:

Other than the remote chance of a reaction to anesthesia or an infection, the risks to bone marrow harvest are minimal. Donors generally feel no pain during the bone marrow harvest as the procedure is carried out under general anesthesia. After the procedure, there may be slight discomfort in the lower back lasting a few days, which is much like a muscle ache or similar to pain felt on the tailbone after a fall.

Method 2: Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Harvest (PBSC)

Peripheral Blood Stem Cells are those blood cells that are usually found in the bone marrow. The donor will be given 4 daily injections of a hormone called G-CSF (Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor) to stimulate the growth of their stem cells and to mobilize them into the blood stream. This is usually done in the morning and the donor can continue their normal daily activities. On the fourth day, the stem cells will be collected in an outpatient procedure that is very similar to blood donation except that it will take between 5-7 hours. Once complete, the donor is usually free to go home.

Side Effects:

Donors might experience some flu-like symptoms, slight bone pain, or a feeling of heaviness during the 5 days when the injections to stimulate and mobilize the stem cells into the blood are being given. These discomforts usually disappear soon after the collection is completed.

I actually opted for Method 1 because it would be faster but the patient wanted me to proceed via Method 2 instead. I was willing to do what’s best for the patient so I didn’t mind.  A few days before the procedure, I was given the daily injections to stimulate my stem cells. And when the day came, all the doctor had to do was to extract the stem cells via the harvesting system. So, the blood goes out from one tube (from your arms) and goes into a machine where the stem cells are extracted.

Once done, the blood goes back via another tube into the other arm. However, due to difficulties in finding the main veins in my arms, the doctor decided to put a tube directly into my jugular vein on my right collarbone. It was weird but I did not feel anything at all, just a little uncomfortable when lying down. No matter what, they will make you feel as comfortable as possible.

I recovered quite fast as the wound was really well taken care of. And some of the perks of being a bone marrow donor is you get free full health check-up and you’ll be staying in an AA ward at Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Novena), which was a first and an interesting experience for me.

~

This courageous and loving couple leaves me speechless. I wish them all the best, and to keep on doing what they do and inspiring the people around them. :)

‘Instantly Ageless’ Promises To Get Rid Of Your Eye Bags & Wrinkles – Does It Work?

I get emails regarding product sponsorships very frequently and I usually turn down the dubious-sounding ones. When a guy called Ryan emailed me about a best-selling product that is apparently selling like hotcakes around the world, and which promises to get rid of eye bags and wrinkles, I was intrigued. Then, he dropped a bucket of ice water on my enthusiasm by telling me the product is out-of-stock worldwide. O…K…

Instantly Ageless

When the (new) stock eventually arrived, I asked if I could do a video about it for a new YouTube channel I’m setting up. So if he’s up for the challenge, we’ll test out the product and film the entire process. If the product bombs, sorry too bad, I’ll STILL upload the video and everyone who watches it will know the product does NOT work. However, thankfully for Ryan, and to my utter amazement, it DOES work.

I had my 67-year-old blogging student, Steven from www.retiredowhat.com, be the ‘model’ for this product trial. Because, well, he has a rather severe eye bag issue. But as you can see from the Before-After picture below, the eye bag under his right eye is significantly less puffy after just 2 applications of Instantly Ageless. Most people generally need just 1 application, which takes about 2 minutes.

No Photoshop at all:

Instantly Ageless

And if you need more proof, just watch the video:

And no, Steven reported no side effects from using the cream. *Phew*

To me, this product is like shapewear for the eyes. We usually wear shapewear to defy gravity and tuck in our tummies and all the bits hanging out over waistbands. What Instantly Ageless does is to shrink that puffy eye area, even out the fine lines and wrinkles, and diminish the appearance of eye bags.

Like shapewear, the effect is not permanent. Instantly Ageless lasts for up to 9 hours, after which you’ll require another application or if you’re already home then just have a shower and go to bed. :)

It’s great for everyday use, whether to work or to parties, events, interviews, dates, etc. The possibilities are endless. PLUS you can bring the small vials with you everywhere, even on holidays!

And…

It’s affordable too, or I won’t even bother recommending it if it’s priced out of reach of the average consumer. *Disclaimer: I don’t earn a cent from your purchase of this product, and neither does Steven too. We found that Instantly Ageless works, so I’m just sharing this for your reference.

To find out about the current promotions/discounts, benefits of using Instantly Ageless, testimonials from users, and any other enquiries, head over to this facebook page and PM Ryan:

https://www.facebook.com/resvertrol

National Cancer Centre Singapore – Happy Staff Delight Customers

National Cancer Centre Singapore

I have a few friends and family members who have succumbed to cancer, yet I’ve never been to the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) before. The NCCS is one of the finalists for this year’s Singapore Service Excellence Medallion Award, and I was invited to visit the Centre and discover for myself how the care for patients is their staff’s top priority. In the picture above, I am reading one of the many ‘thank you’ cards given to staff by their patients. I was also brought on a tour of the premises.

National Cancer Centre Singapore

Contrary to popular belief, it is not just patients diagnosed with cancer who go to the NCCS. Dr Terence Tan from NCCS shared with me that some people come here for genetic testing, for instance, so as to get peace of mind if they are at high risk of getting cancer. Early detection and early treatment helps save lives!

NCCS receives about 135,000 patient visits a year and provides purely outpatient service – there are no beds here. If patients have to be hospitalized, they go to SGH next door and the doctors go over to look after them.

The NCCS has the most advanced radiotherapy equipment in this part of the world and while Clinical Quality is important to them, they hold Service Quality close to their heart as well.

I was surprised to note that Patient Relationship Officers greet and welcome patients at the entrances to the clinics. In fact, the NCCS has an in-house service quality program ‘NCCS Cares’ which they developed together with the Disney Institute. The aim is to keep staff happy and satisfy their customers. Thus, their Service Quality mission is to provide the “Best Experience through Compassionate Care”.

Dr Terence Tan shared with me that patients are with the NCCS for life – they do not get discharged, and do still come back even after the end of the treatment cycle. “We have a unique opportunity to develop a long-term relationship with them, and that’s what our staff do.” For instance, patients who require radiotherapy come to the NCCS every day for 7 weeks, and develop a bond with the people who help treat them.

I also had the privilege of speaking with a Senior Staff Nurse, Audrey Quek, whose animated gestures and infectious bright smile, along with cheery chuckles, clearly helps lighten the atmosphere in any room. Audrey has 35 years of nursing experience!

My photographer pal, Max Clyne, sent me a hilarious caption for the photo below:

Nurse: “I know Kungfu ok”

Grace: “I note it down”

National Cancer Centre Singapore

Audrey was actually explaining to me about how doctors can sometimes get too taxed with the patient load (there is an increase in the number of new patients year on year) so nurses help spend time with the patients, befriend them, share about surgical procedures, let the patient know what to expect in the operation, and also how to cope with the pain after, etc.

The aim, she says, is to help the patient feel relieved and assured of getting good service and anything else they may need during the course of their treatment, e.g. financial assistance or counselling. There is also a Cancer Helpline they can call.

National Cancer Centre Singapore

[Me, Audrey and Dr Tan]

The NCCS sends the top 3 or 4 staff each year to Disneyland to see a world-class service organization at work, so they can come back and infect the rest, according to Dr Tan. Audrey was one of the winners of the annual trips.

She shared…

“I asked myself why is everyone so happy there? I compared the two different clientele. Disneyland is for pleasure; people go there to enjoy themselves. Patients here hope somebody can help them in all aspects – finance, mental and emotional support, and hope that they can get comfort and assurance. The principle is the same – find out what is the client’s objective.”

~ Chemotherapy Unit ~

There I met another two of NCCS’s staff: Chia Chor Hoon and Simon Chen.

Chor Hoon shared with me that the place can get quite cold sometimes so the staff will offer patients some warm water and blankets – “We cannot take away the pain, but we can give them some comfort and reassure them that we will take good care of them.”

Simon, who has worked in NCCS since 2010 shared…

Our mood can influence our patients’ mood. Why not make a difference in their lives by suggesting ways they can cope with the disease, how they can lift themselves up? Bring in their family members to encourage them e.g. by sharing about the positive things in their prognosis. Whenever I see any signs of good news, e.g. a decline in cancer markers, straightaway I will tell them so they have something to look forward to… A glass can be seen as half-filled or half-empty. Even if the doctor tells you there is only 30% chance of recovering, tell yourself you are 1 of the 30% instead of focusing on ‘oh dear, the odds are against me’.

Simon’s belief is that besides treating patients, staff have to help give them hope too.

~ Radiotherapy Unit ~

At the Radiotherapy unit, I got to meet Yusnita Bte Omar, the Assistant Manager for Education and Training. She has been at NCCS for 19 years! She showed me how they prepare patients for the treatments.

National Cancer Centre Singapore

In radiotherapy, patients have to be immobilized, e.g. for treating brain tumors and such. The sheet she is holding has to be warmed up, and quickly placed on the patient’s face, and contoured to the shape of the patient’s head, and made into a “mask”. This is especially tricky when the patient is a child or is claustrophobic. Yusnita says they have to first understand the patient’s fear and demonstrate to them the procedure first – either on other patients who have given their consent, or on one of the medical officers.

Mask-making takes 20 minutes and patients have to wear the mask every day of treatment. Yusnita shared that during training, they have all undergone the mask-making procedure and know that the contouring around the neck region feels like someone is strangling you. This helps them empathize with patients, and they will sometimes hold the patient’s hand, put him/her at ease, and once the mask hardens, cut it open around the eye region so the patient can ‘see’ and feel less afraid.

With kids, they use play therapy. They will wrap a piece of the material around the child’s wrist first, “like a Ben 10 super watch”. They will also print cutouts of the cartoon character and paste them over the “watch”. This process helps the children feel how warm the mask will be, and how it “grabs your skin”. Only as a last resort will general anesthesia be used.

Because they have made what is a usually-scary procedure fun for the children, Yusnita shared that “some run in and say I’m ready. Can I have my mask today?” as it makes them feel like superheroes.

Radiation Treatment Room:

National Cancer Centre Singapore

The radiation treatment room has in-room music, and sometimes patients bring in their own music selection too. Each treatment room comes with a ceiling in a special theme – garden, waterfall, sky, etc.

The beautiful ceilings play a role in helping to calm them down. One of their patients was a diver. Before starting her treatment, she went on a holiday then she came and laid down on the treatment bed and made the comment that “oh, I’m still holidaying”. :)

Yusnita shared with me about the importance of Passion in her job – “Know why you are here, who you are working for, keep on track. Burn that passionate flame. It’s important to love what you are doing.”

And because her department is located in the basement of the NCCS, colleagues who work at level 1 and above joke about not knowing they exist. Yusnita shares with a smile:

“There’s no sunshine so we bring along the sunshine with our personality. If not, the place will be cold. We need warm people around.”

Indeed, the staff that I met at NCCS are warm, cheerful and optimistic people. Like Dr Tan shared, “it takes a special kind of nurse to work here”.

Key Takeaway: I found the visit an eye-opening experience. I had expected an atmosphere of ‘doom and gloom’ but what I noticed was an upbeat, cheerful atmosphere. And staff selection is so crucial for organizations handling patient care – you need motivated, friendly, and optimistic people to spread a message of hope among patients who could be feeling very helpless. Thus, the company culture of care and respect among the staff, and the shared mission of delivering the best experience through compassionate care, has resulted in a situation whereby happy staff continue to delight and serve patients every single day.

~ VOTE ~

The Singapore Service Excellence Medallion was launched to honor organisations and individuals who have inspired a transformation in the local service industry and raised the bar in service excellence. This is quantified not by individual heroes, but by the remarkable performance of the people and organisations that are pushing the envelope to create an environment that delivers phenomenal organisational performance, employee and customer satisfaction.

To vote for National Cancer Centre Singapore to win the Singapore Service Excellence Medallion, follow the link below:

www.makingexperiencescount.sg

Universal Studios Singapore: Empowering Staff To Treat Customers As Very Important Guests

Universal Studios Singapore

I have not been back to Universal Studios for a while now. And how I have been missing out! The Park celebrated its 5th birthday last week and I popped by and fell in love again. I was there to find out how Universal Studios Singapore (USS) came to be a finalist for this year’s Singapore Service Excellence Medallion Award. Beyond providing further information on the park, the Universal Studios Singapore staff on the ground demonstrated excellent service. Read to the end of the blogpost to find out who won my heart. :)

Lots of guest-staff interaction at the Park:

Universal Studios Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore is no stranger to service excellence awards. In 2013, two of their staff took home awards in the Customer Service category – Retail and Visitor Attraction.

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Ms Lim Miao Ling, age 30, from That’s A Wrap Store at Universal Studios Singapore said: “I always try to ensure guests leave the store smiling, that’s what keeps me going. I definitely did not expect to win this award, now I am even more driven to create more excellent customer service moments.”

Ms Grace Christine M. Jamuna Rani, age 50, a VIP Tour Guide for Universal Studios Singapore, who won the award for Visitor Attraction said: “I am honored, privileged and thankful to have won this service excellence award. Having my efforts recognised at this age is a great encouragement.”

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The Park is currently decked out in Easter-themed decor. And I am particularly fond of anything to do with the Minions. Are you a fan too? :D

Universal Studios Singapore

Thanks to the tour led by their Senior Communications Executive, Linette Lin, I got to venture into a place I’ve never been before – the Family Room. Tucked in a corner of the Transformers Ride venue, it is a spacious air-conditioned area for families to hang out – Daddy can sit in here with the young kids while Mommy goes on the ride, and vice versa. There’s a TV, water dispensers of different heights (so thoughtful!), a wash basin, and long benches.

Universal Studios Singapore

Staff are also trained to identify guests who are not feeling well after the rides, and to usher them to this Family Room. And for anyone who requires medical attention, there is a medical centre within the Park.

The park also provides several value-added services. It has introduced sewing kits and mobile phone charging services across parks and also provides young guests with wrist tags that makes it easier to reunite children who have gotten separated from their parents.

Inside and out, USS has also spared no effort in providing amazing photo opportunities. Against a colorful backdrop with an egg-shaped Universal ‘globe’, I got a picture with the Sesame Street gang. And here’s where the magic happened…

Universal Studios Singapore

The blue one might easily be mistaken as Cookie Monster. I believe he’s Grover, with bunny ears.

After my photo, another group went up to take pictures with the Sesame Street characters. When coming down those steps, this lady in a pink top and beige shorts took a tumble and fell down awkwardly. She quickly picked herself up, in front of the crowd of people queuing for photos. But what surprised me most was Grover hurrying down and embracing her in a huge hug. I guess all embarrassment she was feeling up to that point must have evaporated. She left with a huge smile on her face.

Thumbs up for Grover! (*Edited pic: I gave the lady some shades to protect her identity)  Looks like the staff at USS are empowered to turn any guest situation into a memorable one!

Universal Studios Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore looks amazing, the rides are awesome, the merchandise are irresistible, but I guess what will keep guests coming back is that fantastic experience provided by the staff. Be prepared to fall head over heels in love with Universal Studios Singapore the next time you visit. And give Grover a high five for me!

Key Takeaway: From this experience at USS, I think people who visit the Park are not treated so much as ‘customers’ as they are treated as ‘guests’. When a guest visits your home or office, you try to make him/her feel ‘at home’ and go out of your way to accommodate and welcome your guest. Anyone who is involved with client relations, customer service, sales, or any client-facing jobs would do well to view ‘customers’ as ‘guests’. Ultimately, organizations are judged not by fancy brochures they hand out but by the individual customer experiences.

Say Hi to the Minions on your next visit:

Universal Studios Singapore

~ VOTE ~

“The Singapore Service Excellence Medallion was launched to honor organisations and individuals who have inspired a transformation in the local service industry and raised the bar in service excellence. This is quantified not by individual heroes, but by the remarkable performance of the people and organisations that are pushing the envelope to create an environment that delivers phenomenal organisational performance, employee and customer satisfaction.”

To vote for Universal Studios Singapore to win the Singapore Service Excellence Medallion, follow the link below:

www.makingexperiencescount.sg

Canon Singapore’s Customer Care Centre – Seek To Empathize With Customers First

Canon Customer Care Centre

Another finalist for this year’s Singapore Service Excellence Medallion Award (SSEM) is Canon! :) Will the brand whose slogan is ‘Delighting You Always’ win the hearts of the judges and voters like yourself? I popped by their Customer Care Centre in Harbourfront recently to speak with Shyanne Browning from their Customer Delight Management – a 3-man independent team in Canon that reads and responds to all feedback that customers send in.

Sharing a laugh, or two, with Shyanne:

Canon Customer Care Centre

Shyanne’s department is separate from the service centre and various touch points across the island. It reports directly to senior management. I was curious about how a large organization like Canon only requires a 3-man team for handling feedback, and Shyanne explained that they don’t get many complaints, but get quite a number of compliments from happy customers, and there are those who have actually become friends with the service staff at Canon!

Because service is so important at Canon, the company tries to make the feedback-submitting process as easy as possible. Spot a red sticker on the service counter? Scan the QR code and key in your feedback or query! The staff also have KPIs to hit which are based on customer feedback. *Even if you have product feedback (e.g. I want to see a particular camera in pink), write in and the company will compile feedback to send to the R&D department in Tokyo.

I asked Shyanne to share with me a memorable customer service experience and she related this story:

“A customer called us regarding a printer hardware error, and our staff told him that we cannot troubleshoot this particular error over the phone, and to please make his way down to our service centre with the printer.

He drove down on a rainy morning.

Our service centre staff apologized for not having the spare parts to fix his printer and asked if he would like to buy a new printer with a discount. He was yelling and screaming about having to risk his life driving down in the rain.

His printer was already 10 years old. We just didn’t have the spare parts anymore.

Often, we just have to acknowledge that it was not easy for the customer, and that we had made it difficult for them to get things done. We have to empathize with them and really feel what they are feeling.

He eventually bought a new printer, and after he had cooled down, he called me the next day to ask me to help apologize to the staff.”

Knowing this, Canon tries to “make things easy” for customers. For instance, if your camera died while you are on holiday, you’ll usually not have an international warranty. But now, with the recently-launched Asia Traveller Protection Program, the camera that you bought in Singapore can be fixed in any Asian country. You’ll pay first, then claim the service fee when you get back to Singapore. Pretty cool, eh?

Joe Seah, who works at Canon and has won service awards 4 times, also popped by to share with us his experience of working at Canon. Joe has been a Canon staff for over 15 years! And he’s not even the person who has served the longest! Another staff member I got to meet, Melvin, has worked at Canon for 35 years! *gasp* Thus, you’ll likely see the same faces when you visit the service centre every time.

Canon Customer Care Centre

Joe shared that he has over 100 “old customers” who still come by to ‘talk lenses’ for an hour or two, trade product knowledge, and engage in “geeky conversations” as Shyanne terms them. :) Joe is an avid photographer and diver but admits that these hobbies require a “time commitment” outside of work, but it makes him happy to note that customers like his recommendations, e.g. for lenses for a safari trip.

I was under the impression that because Canon treats its staff so well, they cannot help but transfer that love to their customers too. As a customer, I was delighted to hear that they offer on-site service warranty for printers (technicians will pop by your home to repair your printer for you) and there is even a camera courier service (someone will pick up the camera from you, get it repaired, and deliver it back to you!)

You can check out Canon’s Concept Stores at BEST Denki (Takashimaya), Courts Megastore (Tampines) or at Harvey Norman (Kallang Wave Mall). But for all tech conversations, pop by Harbourfront and speak with staff like Joe. He says Canon is like his “second family”, and he welcomes Canon customers to come chat with him.

Canon Customer Care Centre

Key Takeaway: It is often easy to assume that a customer is being “difficult” or “nasty” or “overly demanding”. But if customer service staff put themselves in the shoes of customers, and seek to empathize with them regarding their plight / complaint / frustration, customer service issues can usually be amicably resolved. Even better, they may gain a loyal customer for life, because the customer feels that the staff are sincere in taking the time to understand his/her frustrations, and put in their best effort to help resolve those issues.

Selfie Time: testing out one of Canon’s newest products:

Canon Customer Care Centre

Shyanne and Joe were extremely friendly and I really enjoyed my conversations with them. With that kind of warm service atmosphere, I am sure that Canon’s 135,000 fans will be voting online for Canon to win the Singapore Service Excellence Medallion! *wink*

~ VOTE ~

“The Singapore Service Excellence Medallion was launched to honor organisations and individuals who have inspired a transformation in the local service industry and raised the bar in service excellence. This is quantified not by individual heroes, but by the remarkable performance of the people and organisations that are pushing the envelope to create an environment that delivers phenomenal organisational performance, employee and customer satisfaction.”

To vote for Canon Singapore to win the Singapore Service Excellence Medallion , follow the link below:

www.makingexperiencescount.sg

Tong Ming Xi Music Instrument Store: Gaining Long-Term Customer Relationships Via Personalized Service

Tong Ming Xi

The only two musical instruments I have ever been tasked to play are the recorder and the triangle. :D I’ve never learnt to play a violin before, and never knew that people would collect violins that are over a century old! (You mean they’ll still work?!) So imagine my surprise when I came to know about this company which specializes in the repair and restoration of antique violins – what an interesting niche!

Tong Ming Xi was started back in 2004, now has three outlets in Singapore, and has consistently done well over the years in terms of customer service so they are now a finalist for this year’s Singapore Service Excellence Medallion Award (SSEM)! Previous winners of the Medallion are the Changi Airport Group and the Singapore Zoo. So being one of seventeen finalists is definitely recognition of the company’s stellar customer service. :)

And what does the company do? It helps breathe new life into antique violins, and is also the sole restorer for The Rin Collection – the instruments are on loan to Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music students a.k.a. music geniuses.

If you bring in your violin for restoration and repair work, it will likely be sent to their workshop in Commonwealth where luthiers (the craftsmen who make or repair instruments) will work their magic.

The company was founded by Singapore-born Ming Xi, who has been playing the violin since the age of 10. He has since created many highly regarded violins and established himself as a leading repairer and restorer of string instruments. In 2003, The Straits Times described Ming Xi as “the country’s modern day musical Geppetto”, and his company’s emphasis is on education, creativity and craftsmanship.

For the first time, the Medallion Judging Panel is inviting the public to vote for their favorite Organisations so I popped by the Tong Ming Xi Signature Experience at Esplanade Mall to find out what the company has done well, and why it deserves YOUR vote…

I was definitely nervous about holding an antique violin priced at over S$40,000 *gulp*

Tong Ming Xi

Because antique violins don’t come cheap (some are more than a hundred years old!), the staff at Tong Ming Xi need to have in-depth knowledge and experience to share with their customers. In fact, they even conduct violin appreciation workshops! The staff see their role as that of an educator, instead of a salesperson. They will help you in the selection, maintenance and repair of your prized musical instruments.

Tong Ming Xi

For violin selection, I got the impression that one needs to try out as many violins as possible, in order to find the right one. It is a little like how magic wands are purchased in the Harry Potter series – you have to find the one that speaks to you. And here’s where the staff’s expertise comes in – they can share about the material, craftsmanship and aesthetics of each violin. Whether you prefer the sounds to be mellow or brighter, for instance, the staff can be your trusted consultants.

Though the company mainly does repair and restoration work, they also place a lot of emphasis on education. For instance, what impressed me a fair bit is that I get to see what is INSIDE a violin. Tong Ming Xi made this ‘deconstructed’ piece which has movable violin parts and also plays music like a music box when you turn the handle at the side.

Tong Ming Xi

Apparently, it also serves as a reminder to young violinists to practise :D

Tong Ming Xi

And there’s an even cuter version called The Cat & The Fiddle:

Tong Ming Xi

Yes, it plays music, and it moves when you turn the dial. Amazing.

I believe kids will most certainly love the Tong Ming Xi experience. There are also violins with eye-catching designs and the staff can put a label inside the violin with the name of the kid. And when it’s time for an upgrade, the kid gets a violin stand to display the ‘old’ violin at home.

Very tempting indeed…

Tong Ming Xi

Tong Ming Xi offers additional value to its customers through a complimentary service to match teachers and students based on preferences that you can submit through the “Find a teacher” and “Join us as a teacher” feature on their website.

The company also believes in giving back to society, via their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, by sharing the gift of music and “leveraging on our passion and skills in the restoration of string instruments”.

Tong Ming Xi is looking for volunteers to (1) Donate old, unwanted violins for restoration OR for trade-in, and (2) Teach basic violin-playing to these children in need. Enquire here or email enquiry@tongmingxi.com.

Key Takeaway: To gain and keep a customer for life, staff have to see their role as being that of an educator, a consultant, and maybe even a friend, instead of being a ‘salesperson’. Thus lifelong relationships can be forged with their customers, and referrals will be given. I think this is an excellent way to do business. :)

~ VOTE ~

“The Singapore Service Excellence Medallion was launched to honor organisations and individuals who have inspired a transformation in the local service industry and raised the bar in service excellence This is quantified not by individual heroes, but by the remarkable performance of the people and organisations that are pushing the envelope to create an environment that delivers phenomenal organisational performance, employee and customer satisfaction.”

To vote for Tong Ming Xi to win the Singapore Service Excellence Medallion Award, follow the link below:

www.makingexperiencescount.sg

Join Me at the Breakthrough Conference on 2 May 2015

Breakthrough Conference 2015

I’ll be sharing the stage with a group of inspiring individuals at the Breakthrough Conference 2015. Yes, including that mysterious masked man – someone who makes a 6-figure sum every year just from dividends. (I can’t wait to find out how he does that stock-picking!)

If you’re the kind of person who wants to cut through all the fluff at seminars, and just get one brilliant idea from each speaker, and put it to good use in your life, then this conference is for you. If you don’t want to pay thousands of dollars for a “life-changing” / “motivational” / “get rich quick” course, then all you need to pay is S$38. Just use this code: ‘grace38

See you there! :)

Breakthrough Conference 2015

https://www.eventbrite.sg/e/breakthrough-conference-2015-tickets-16166043070

Head & Shoulders Takes Responsibility For Crashing Instagram Last Week

Instagram Crash

So… I received this email. And I have a few questions:

1) How does just 1,111 uploads crash Instagram?

2) I cannot reconcile “some 9,000 runners said ‘cheese’ and Instagrammed” and “a final count of 1,111″. Some 7000+ runners used the wrong hashtags?

3) Who else is grossed out by the idea of having to “get close and put their heads together” for a photo with other runners?

4) Instagram should have crashed between 3.30-7.30pm when runners are supposed to be uploading Instagram posts. But it seems the reports came in later, as shown in the CNA article: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/instagram-temporarily/1778956.html So… who to believe? ;)