About Grace Tan

Grace owns the award-winning business and lifestyle blog, WorkingWithGrace.wordpress.com. She is also the author of the best-selling book 'Blogging For A Living'.

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.

~

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.”

~

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? ;)

How To Lose Weight After Pregnancy – The Tammy Tay Story

Was browsing YouTube playlists when I chanced upon this one about Tammy Tay. I follow her on Instagram and know that she has lost a lot of weight after her pregnancy, to the envy of many I’m sure.

She’s a single mom to Elroy, and she shares in the video that she weighed 70kg (at her heaviest) and her weight is now below 50kg!

While restoring confidence in front of the camera is one of her motivations for losing weight, she candidly shares that “If I didn’t lose all that weight, I would lose some endorsements”.

Tammy’s Three Tips For Post-Pregnancy Weight Loss:

1) Breastfeeding

She credits breastfeeding for helping her lose over 10kg in 3 months. Impressive.

2) Exercise

Besides jogging for 30mins every alternate day, Tammy does these exercises at home: crunches, planking, squats while carrying the baby, and pushups.

3) Diet

Breakfast: Two slices of wholemeal bread, a cup of yoghurt, milo or green tea

Lunch: Small portion of brown rice, boiled/steamed meat, some vegetable, maybe an egg too (*stay away from processed food!)

Dinner: Same as at lunch but without the carbs, and eaten before 8pm

If she feels hungry after dinner, she’d eat an apple or drink a lot of water.

*Important tips: Never skip your meals, and dieting is all about discipline.

Lee Hwa Jewellery: Of Buddha Diamonds and Vanda Pendants

l’ve received a couple of emails recently regarding Lee Hwa Jewellery’s new and supposedly innovative collections. First up, there are the Buddha Diamonds.

Buddha Diamond

These Buddha Diamonds are developed by Munich-based Schreiner Fine Jewellery and are shaped to represent a meditating Buddha. Each Buddha Diamond has up to 58 facets and is sculpted from a single rough diamond. This diamond – which is internationally patented – takes ten times longer to cut compared to a normal diamond. The range also includes earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Honestly, I find it lacks the ‘wow’ factor for me:

Buddha Diamond earrings, anyone?

Buddha Diamond earings

The full range of Buddha Diamonds will be available at the Lee Hwa Diamond Promenade (ION Orchard), while Buddha Diamond In Glass will be available in all other Lee Hwa Jewellery boutiques from end April 2015 onwards.

What IS pretty, though, is the Vanda pendant!  :)

Lee Hwa Jewellery Vanda Pendant

Vanda’s design incorporates Lee Hwa Jewellery’s signature 19k Purple Gold™, accompanied by rose and white gold. Also, there are several dozen round white diamonds, purple amethysts and pink tourmalines combined with a round solitaire diamond on the orchid’s lip. The Vanda pendant probably looks best on the rose gold chain.. The Vanda Pendant is available at Lee Hwa Jewellery boutiques in ION Orchard, Suntec City, and VivoCity from June 2015. Each limited edition Vanda pendant comes with its own individual serial number. If you really like jewellery fashioned to look like orchids, you can also check out Risis’ collection here. Very tempting indeed.

OREO Launches A New Flavor: Coconut Delight

OREO Coconut Delight

[This is not an ad. I wasn’t even sent one sponsored Oreo cookie. :P] I’m just intrigued by what the Coconut Delight Oreo would taste like. Hmm. One of my favorite childhood snacks, the Oreo is a yummy treat whether eaten on its own or dunked into milk… or as guilty schoolchildren will tell you, the Oreo Twist-Lick-Dunk is the best. :D

OREO Coconut Delight

According to the press release sent to me, the 137g pack costs S$1.59 and the 264.6g Multipack costs S$1.95. Honestly, I don’t know how they do the math, but I’m glad the snack is kept affordably priced. :)

But what I am really craving for right now is some Tim Tams :D

Tim Tam

[Pic source: timtam-shop.de]

When I was in Melbourne some years ago, my pals Calvin and Mark taught me how to eat tim tams. Apparently, you bite off the ends of a tim tam (diagonally opposite each other) and use the now-bitten tim tam as a straw in warm milk. Then you eat the tim tam, whose center would have gotten all warm, melty and mushy from the milk. Entirely delectable, I tell you!

I don’t have the Coconut Delight Oreos at home, and neither do I have tim tams within reach. :D I DO have Haagen-Dazs’ ice cream though. Bought 3 pints this week ‘cos they are on offer at Sheng Siong till end of the month. The usual price is S$14.50 EACH, but they’re now going for S$28.50 for THREE. Impossible to resist. And I do love the green tea flavor. :)

Haagen Dazs

Sweet weekend, folks!~

Book Review: ‘Yes Please’ by Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler Yes Please

Intriguing title aside, I really do judge books by their covers, and this one is eye-catching in a flashing-neon-light way. :D And its 329 pages make for a really good read.

I don’t know what possessed Amy to write this book while going through a divorce, but I’m glad she did. Her larger-than-life character leaps out at you from between those pages and her irreverent good humor is a welcome breath of fresh air (e.g. she jokes about wanting to tell prolific authors to tie their many books around their ankles and jump into a lake, simply because she finds writing to be such hard work).

She’s so honest, funny, and irresistibly witty that this book might be close to being labelled “unputdownable” (an honor reserved for only the best page-turners).

And why, you might ask, is this book titled ‘Yes Please’? She explains:

It’s called Yes Please because it is the constant struggle and often the right answer. Saying “yes” doesn’t mean I don’t know how to say no, and saying “please” doesn’t mean I am waiting for permission.

Make of it what you will. Or buy this book and read it ;)

And here’s another example of her good humor… if you get the joke:

Yes Please Amy Poehler

I have read (and relished) but have not reviewed Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ here. Perhaps I should do that as many female authors like to refer to Sheryl’s book.

Also, here’s what Amy thinks her 90-year-old self would say:

Yes Please Amy Poehler

Sound advice, though…

“Relax and let her win. Who cares?” – Well, yes and no. If something is just a petty squabble, then as that hit song goes… let it go. But if there’s something else at stake, then perhaps it demands to be dealt with more severely. Also, I like that bit about “Forgive your parents for what they never gave you” – your parents may have gotten a divorce (like what Amy is getting) and left you insecure and angry, or perhaps they never gave you the good looks, money or privileges that your friends have, but that’s no reason to become a bitter person. ;)

On Saying Sorry: “…this doesn’t mean I am a pushover. It doesn’t mean I am afraid of conflict or don’t know how to stand up for myself. I am getting to a place right in the middle where I feel good about exactly how much I apologize.”

I agree. In fact, on yesterday’s episode of Talking Point on TV, one interviewee shared that it’s nicer to be the one to apologize first, even if you are the victim of cyber-bullying. Stand on higher moral ground, and see if your bully will follow but don’t hold your breath hoping it will happen soon. :D [You can watch Talking Point on Toggle if you’ve missed the episode]

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Nuggets of wisdom from people Amy admires:

1) Louis CK: “Divorce is always good news because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce”

2) Gavin de Becker: “no” should be the “end of the discussion, not the beginning of a negotiation”

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“The only way we will survive is by being kind. The only way we can get by in this world is through the help we receive from others.” – Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler Yes Please

Get this hardcover edition at just S$23.32 before GST at your nearest bookstore :)