Book Review: ‘Unstoppable’ by Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova Unstoppable

I picked Maria Sharapova’s book ‘Unstoppable’ as my in-flight reading material to and from Bangkok, and it was a great choice. Once again, I’m reminded why I love memoirs / autobiographies so much. I’m not a fan of tennis and didn’t know much about Maria before reading this book. I know she makes loud noises (what folks call “grunting”) on the court , and she has her own brand of candy (which I think is kind of pricey), and she’s gorgeous. But beyond that, I didn’t know much else about her. This book changed all that.

I got to read the story of her first encounter with the game of tennis at age 4, and how her father (Yuri) dropped everything in Russia and brought her to America a few years later, believing his daughter would be a tennis star.

Long before there was the Tiger Mom, there was the Tennis Dad, and you don’t want to mess with either of them. 😀 It was largely due to her family’s dedication that Maria became the superstar she is today.

Get a copy of this book if you want to know:

  1. What motivates her
  2. Lessons she learnt from losses
  3. Locker room secrets
  4. Who encouraged her to try shoplifting (just that one time) and what she took
  5. Rivalry with Serena Williams
  6. Players who gave her dirty looks
  7. Who she had a serious crush on
  8. Playing with her right (vs left) hand, her shoulder injury, etc

Through this book, Maria has tried to clear the air once again with regard to the (supposed) “doping” incident. If you don’t know what happened, just know that she was cleared of the doping charges. I think it all happened for a reason – it gave her time to rest and recharge. She even went for a two-week summer program at Harvard Business School! You’ve got to love this gal. Even though she was suspended from playing tennis, facing an international backlash, having people call her all sorts of names (comments about “doper” / “cheat” / etc can still be found on Youtube videos of her), instead of moping or feeling sorry for herself, she went out and learnt new stuff.

There are a couple of quotes from this book that I love. Here’s one of them:

“What sets the great players apart from the good players? The good players win when everything is working. The great players win even when nothing is working, even when the game is ugly; that is, when they are not great. Because no one can be great every day. Can you get it done on the ugly days, when you feel like garbage and the tank is empty? That’s the question.”

I felt it was an absolute privilege and honor to be able to read this story of her life. This is certainly a book I’m keeping and re-reading at some point. 🙂


Watch this video and see 14-year-old Maria, plus get a sneak peek at her stamp collection 😀


Book Review: Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

This is one book I love but which also leaves me puzzled. As puzzled as after I read this other book about eating, praying and loving, and how the author discovered her soulmate (this amazing guy) after a traumatic divorce and traveling to various places. Said author later divorces the guy and ends up in a same-sex relationship. This world is so freaking… confusing. And authors and creative types are the worst, I tell you! 😛

Anyway, in Wildflower, Drew Barrymore shares about how she met Will Kopelman, the proposal, the awesome in-laws, and beautiful kids. The book ends with no sign at all that her marriage would not be a ‘happily ever after’ story. And before you know it, tah-dah they are divorced. Brilliant. Thankfully, the book is not just about the couple (or ex-couple). It shares snippets of Drew’s past, her upbringing, her parents, the adventures she’s been on (like jumping off a cruise ship full of old people!), and also how she came to star in some of my favorite movies ever (like ’50 First Dates’).

What I would have loved for her to share about was her experience of getting into an ‘institution / rehab’ at the age of 13 and staying in there for 1.5 years. That part is missing from the overall story. Though I would understand if she’d just rather not share / recall. What she does reveal, though, are some bits about how she parted ways with her mother when she was 14, and how her dad was simply not playing the role of a dad throughout her life.

Through this book, I got to know a little better this former ‘child star’ who first starred in a dog food commercial at the (impossible) age of 11 months, and then other films including E.T. when she was 7. I was almost moved to tears when she described how she had been tracking the script for what would be the movie ’50 First Dates’ for YEARS before she eventually starred in it with Adam Sandler.

There’s so much more you need to read about in Wildflower. I’m sure you’ll love the book. I bought it yesterday at Times bookstore (50% off at Waterway Point) and am already done reading it today! That’s how good it is!

Here are 5 quotes I’ve picked from the book:

#1: “I am afraid. I’m thirty-five, and I don’t exactly know where my life is heading, and I just don’t even know what I am looking for.” (I’m sure SO MANY of us can relate. I guess this is why we love her and love watching her in the movies she has starred in.)

#2: “…we built relationships with people we admired and respected rather than party with the beautiful people” (Though her parents didn’t do a great job in terms of parenting, her life has been blessed with amazing people who’ve helped teach her, support her and love her.)

#3: “…you can be a warrior and be full of grace and class.”

#4: “You choose the great person in front of you and don’t play the game of Let’s Make a Deal and see what’s behind door number two because we are so conditioned to seeing what else is out there.” (Important advice for people who are single!)

#5: “We all have the capacity to be divine, but that damn ego always lets some people think they are bigger or better than others.”

Schaffen Watches Review: Empowering You To Create Your Own Personalised Timepiece

Schaffen Watches Singapore

Schaffen Watches is a homegrown brand that offers you the opportunity to customise your watch beyond simply engraving your name on it. “Schaffen” is German for the word “create” and you can certainly unleash your creativity in designing a watch that you’ll be proud to call your own. Some people choose to showcase their artwork, have their signature across the watch face or even indicate special dates on them (bonus: never forget an anniversary again). As for me, I chose to have my watch reflect not just the time, but what’s important in Life with specially selected quotes. (*Make sure you read till the end of this blogpost for a special giveaway you won’t want to miss!)

Every Schaffen watch is unique: it might have a Pegasus, or a signature, or be part of “couple watches”. You decide.


Head over to Schaffen’s website to try their Watch Builder – you can fully customise your watch in just 5 simple steps:

Schaffen Watch Builder

Start with the Dial and Caseback, then the Watch Face, Markers, Hands and Straps.

My personalised Schaffen watch has two quotes – a short one in front and a longer one on the caseback. I picked these two quotes because they are oft-repeated by two individuals I admire and respect. On the face of the watch is “Be Happy Always”, which is the phrase ‘Happiness Influencer’ Xandria Ooi from Malaysia, often ends her videos with. I love how these three words are such a useful reminder in this fast-paced society we live in.

Customised Schaffen Watch

When I look at the time and see that the person I’m meeting is late, I get a timely (hur hur) reminder to “Be Happy!” even when there are so many things which could potentially ruin my mood or day. I’m not sure if there’s a better reminder to have on the watch face, as hasn’t it been said that the ultimate aim in Life is to be happy? 🙂


“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson


On the back of the watch is another quote:

Schaffen Watch caseback

“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” is originally from the Ulysses by Lord Alfred Tennyson. It’s my pal, Steven Lek’s, favorite quote. I admire many things about Steven but none more than his dedication to lifelong learning and his unwavering loyalty to his friends. He also takes pride in delivering on his promises, even if he has to stay up all night in order to put together a blogpost that he’d said he would craft. And he’s 70. (He’s also one of my most senior blogging students) 😀

While this quote is on the back, which means few people will ever get to see it, it is a reminder to me each time I put on the watch that I should strive for what I believe in, and to not give up even when times are tough. And if there’s anything my 70-year-old pal can accomplish, I should be able to do too!

My one-of-a-kind watch:

Schaffen Watch Singapore

I chose not to have my name on the watch face, unlike so many other people, as I really don’t need a reminder regarding what my name is. Haha! But if you like your accessories personalized with your name, by all means, go ahead! 😀

And if you have any other ideas regarding what you want your watch to look like, get in touch with the Schaffen team. Perhaps you want the Pegasus on the watch face instead of on the back? Maybe an image of the Hogwarts Express – to remind you to look for the magical moments in each day? I, for one, would love to have the watch straps in other colors too. The blue is great, yes, and wouldn’t pink be lovely? 😀


Schaffen Watches

The box that the watch comes in looks so artfully designed that you’ll certainly want to keep it as well. That said, you won’t have to store the watch within the box each time you’re not wearing it though, ‘cos Schaffen watches are very durable!

The watches are assembled in Singapore, using ‘quality components from Switzerland and Korea’ such as corrosion-resistant 316L stainless steel for the watch case, scratch-proof sapphire crystal, Swiss-made movements (with a 3-year warranty), and genuine full-grain leather sourced from Italy and Hong Kong.

The watches don’t come cheap, at $299 each, but I have only praise for the quality and workmanship. If it’s high time you get a new watch, you might want to customise one with the help of this Singaporean brand. 😉


Watch out for the interview with one of Schaffen’s co-founders coming up real soon. 🙂


WIN a Schaffen watch that YOU get to customise! 😀 Head on over to my Facebook page for the giveaway now! 🙂

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:


Pictures in this blogpost are courtesy of Hearted Moments Photography.

5 Things That Happened Right After Schooling Won Olympic Gold

Joseph Schooling Olympics Gold

Picture Credit: Minister Tan Chuan-Jin

#1: People have to eat their words: “Fat”, “Flabby”, “Old”?

You might have heard people commenting that Phelps is “old” and past his prime years as a swimmer. Then he gets gold after gold. You might have even read (like I did) how commenters wrote that Schooling seems “fat” or “flabby” in pictures or videos from Rio2016. He then went on to win Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal, setting an Olympics record in the process. Fat, your foot lah.

Journalists who went on and on about ‘The King & The Kid’ end up watching two champions face the media together. I kid you not.

#2: 4D punters realize the magic numbers of ‘5039’ are SOLD OUT way before lunchtime

4D 5039 sold out

Before I’d even properly settled down to a late breakfast, I heard that 5039 was already sold out at Singapore Pools. Wow. Those guys sure move fast.

Hopefully, Joseph Schooling’s gold medal timing also results in some people striking gold at the lottery. Even if 5039 doesn’t end up as a winning number, I think most Singaporeans already feel like Schooling has given us a National Day gift to rejoice about.

*Update: 5039 is not one of today’s 4D winning numbers (nope, not even a consolation prize). However, Singapore Pools appears to support the MAP which rewards athletes based on the number of medals they’ve won (see Point 5 in this blogpost) so 4D punters can congratulate themselves: the money they paid today goes towards rewarding this awesome young athlete 🙂

#3: People realize journalists can upload articles with or without quotes, but athletes had better “TALK” at some point

When I woke up this morning, I found an email from a news site I’m subscribed to. The journalist had already put together a lengthy article about Schooling winning gold for Singapore. Included was also the backstory about his journey toward fulfilling his dream. There was NO quote at all from any athlete, coach or bystander.

More than 2 hours later, the article was updated with a few sentences from Schooling.

What does this prove? Journalists can upload a full article before getting a quote from an athlete, but an athlete needs to “TALK” at some point, so both parties can consider their “job” done. Otherwise, don’t blame the journalist for writing what he/she will and casting aspersions on your character for not speaking to the media when you “should” have. 😛

Poor thing! You sweat, you train, you compete… AND you have to force yourself to talk.

#4: Singaporean parents start rethinking preferred career options for their kids

The oft-quoted trinity for Singaporean parents when it comes to preferred careers for their children has long been ‘Doctor, Lawyer, Accountant’. From now on, perhaps, kids who display a certain talent in sports can tell their parents that they want to be like Joseph Schooling, who brought glory to the entire nation.

Truth be told, I’ve met so many lawyers, and read about so many ‘black sheep’ highlighted in the news that I don’t think I’ll want any kid of mine to enter the legal profession. Why not be a doctor? It’s the only profession that saves lives within this ‘trinity’.

#5: Everyone pats themselves on the back; congratulating themselves on Schooling’s win

Joseph Schooling left for the United States at the age of 14, in pursuit of his dream. Seven years later, he fought hard and his dream came true. I wonder how much our country actually invested into his career. Did we sponsor (even partially) the coaching fees that must have been incurred over those years? Did we sponsor the airfares to and fro? If Schooling’s parents had tallied the amount they spent over the years in support of their son’s dream, it would no doubt be an astronomical figure.

And what about the athlete’s own investment of time, sweat, tears, blood, youth?

Sure, we have a Multi-Million Dollar Awards Programme (MAP) that rewards athletes who do well, i.e. win medals for us. Schooling stands to ‘win’ $1 million. But wait…

  1. The awards come with ceilings. For the Olympics Games, there’s a ceiling – just the first individual gold medal won at the Olympics. Supposedly, even if he wins more than just one gold medal, he’s entitled to only $1 mil.
  2. “It is mandatory for all athletes to plough back a certain percentage of the MAP awards to their National Sports Association for future training and development.” This “certain” percentage is not disclosed to us.
  3. Tax will have to be paid. And you can calculate that yourself.

To many, a $1 million award seems like a hefty sum. How much Joseph Schooling gets after taxes and mandatory contributions back to NSA, I don’t know. I do suspect that it won’t be able to cover the investment his parents put into supporting his career choice.

Hopefully, Joseph Schooling gets all the endorsements he deserves. Milo, BRAND’S, Pocari Sweat, are you guys reading this? Also, perhaps he might start a swim school – that could potentially be lucrative. I suppose kids from the region might even come here to train with him.


Just as Roger Bannister broke the ‘4-minute mile’ and paved the way for other athletes to shatter mental barriers, I believe (and fervently hope) that Joseph Schooling’s Olympic gold medal helps demolish those notions of parents who think that there’s no future in Sports for their kids. Yes, there IS a future, but your kid has to work his ass off to get there. And you have to be prepared for the financial outlay. Also, perhaps now Singapore will put more effort (and FUNDS!) into supporting our athletes and training a new batch of local-borns who will keep the Singapore flag flying high in subsequent editions of the Olympics. After the National Stadium, I think we love hearing our national anthem being played at the Olympics, no? 🙂

Book Review: Kevin Tsai’s Way Of Speaking (蔡康永的说话之道2) Book 2

Kevin Tsai Way Of Speaking 2

Kevin Tsai waited four years before releasing book 2, and I have to say it must have been worth the wait for his fans. I truly appreciate it when authors ensure each book is filled with good stuff, instead of simply publishing ‘fluff’ so as to ride on the success of the first book and keep the cash registers ringing. (Yes there are authors like that)

Kevin hired a different illustrator for Book 2 – someone whom he has brought onto his popular talkshow before (if my memory serves me well). The guest on his show was a gay man, during a particular episode in which gay men voted for their favorite (straight) male celebrities. Awkward or flattering? I don’t know.

Well, here are the learning points I got from Book 2. Please go get a copy as the examples shared within are truly worth reading about:

  1. Monitor your speech like you do your looks.
  2. When saying ‘no’ to someone, blame yourself for your inadequacies so others won’t get offended by your refusal.
  3. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be nice.
  4. The more you say, the higher your chance of failure.
  5. Be careful when chatting with a gossipy person.
  6. Phone etiquette: always ask if it’s a good time to chat.
  7. Don’t embarrass people; give them room for error.
  8. Don’t waste time in meetings.
  9. Let your questions suit the person you are speaking with.
  10. Don’t begin your speech with self-pity.
  11. Laugh at yourself, not others.
  12. Stop talking about yourself. Be mysterious; let people imagine.
  13. State your points clearly.
  14. Avoid clichés and exaggerating when complimenting others.
  15. Be truthful to yourself.
  16. Don’t fear someone because of his/her status. Remember that we are all human.
  17. Use social media to find out more about new acquaintances.
  18. Putting out fires: (1) Point out the main cause for anger, and (2) Highlight the positives.
  19. Some questions don’t make sense when asked. During a job interview, ask about  the company’s directions, not your benefits.
  20. Show consideration for others who are in the same boat, e.g. in the same interview early in the morning.
  21. It’s ok to interrupt with a relevant question.
  22. If in doubt, discuss food.
  23. Listen. Focus.
  24. Be interested even if you cannot be interesting yet.
  25. Give an excuse. Any excuse.
  26. Pick apart their request; try to compromise.
  27. If unsure, ask for an example which would illustrate the other party’s point.
  28. When introducing people at an event, tell them why you are introducing A to B.
  29. Find the edge that sets you apart from others.
  30. When appearing coquettish, praise the other party to the skies.
  31. State the reason for your thanks, on top of just saying “thank you”.
  32. Berate the ‘fault’, not the person.
  33. There’s always a way to get around a tough question w/o offending the other person.
  34. Calibrate the volume of your voice to suit your surroundings.
  35. Don’t forget to praise, after you complain.
  36. Make your conversation interesting with some humor and thoughtful speech.
  37. Don’t be bossed around; add ‘barriers’.
  38. Venting is for one’s own ears.
  39. Don’t ask pointed questions directly. Start from a general standpoint.
  40. Practise speaking well.


And yes, I still have no idea why Kevin posed with an umbrella for the book’s cover. (@_@) If you know the reason / rationale, please tell me. 🙂

Book Review: Going Off Script by Giuliana Rancic

Going Off Script by Giuliana Rancic

This memoir is probably the best one I’ve read so far. No wonder it’s a New York Times bestseller! I picked up this book to read last night, and I’ve given it ‘unputdownable’ status (a word reserved only for the best books). It’s utterly refreshing, absolutely hilarious, and just the right length, I’d say. Didn’t know who Giuliana Rancic was before I read this book, but now I think she’s a really cool human being.

She also ‘liked’ my post on Instagram 😀 LOL

Giuliana Rancic book

It’s a mere 263-pages, but this book seems to lay bare all the ups and downs in Giuliana’s life since the time she was “born a celebrity”, how she got up to all sorts of crazy antics in school, how she saw news anchor Barbara Harrison on TV and made journalism her lifelong ambition, how she impressed Johnny Depp and embarrassed herself in front of Leonardo DiCaprio, and how she dated douchebags and rich dudes and eventually married the season one winner of Donald Trump’s reality game show The Apprentice! (And wait till you get to the heart-wrenching bits)

When reading the book, you’ll get the sense that this woman is unstoppable. Life will hit her again and again, and she will rise to meet its challenges. And her sense of humor is amazeballs. I loved the part about how she returned home after an operation (she had scoliosis) and got tormented by the “Terror Toddler”. I laughed so hard! And I was so thankful I was at home, and not out in public where a concerned member of the public would most certainly call the police. Also, because her parents are Italians who are not too fluent in English, there are so many more laughs. You really have to get a copy of this book – it’s a real treat!

At this point, I really do think that Giuliana’s life should be made into a movie. Her life has been quite extraordinary so I think it certainly qualifies as movie material. For one, she can count the late Joan Rivers as her mentor, she had her own reality show ‘Giuliana and Bill’, and there’s her not-too-pleasant experience with artificial insemination and how it led to her cancer diagnosis, that double mastectomy and finally, the birth of her son (Duke) who was conceived via gestational surrogacy.

(I’m still in awe of how she lays her life bare for us to read about, laugh at, and learn from.)

I’m rather envious of her. She’s one of the rare few who KNOW from a young age what they want to be when they grow up, work hard at it, and eventually succeed in the career of their choice. In this book, she calls journalism “the subject that had grabbed me at the age of seven and never let go”. So many of us search, sweat, and succumb (eventually), not finding out what we are meant to be doing on this earth. Lucky her!

And to wrap up, here are some of my favorite lines from this book…

  1. ‘Learning to compromise and not be right all the time is a big lesson for any couple”
  2. “…doctors aren’t gods… they’re human and fallible just like the rest of us”
  3. “…the power of perception and how your attitude toward something can make all the difference in the world”
  4. “You know how you know you’ve lived life to the fullest, and you’ve won? If you can say, I woke up happy most days, and I went to bed happy most nights.”
  5. “I turn forty in triumph. I feel more beautiful than I ever have, gloriously alive in this body that’s been crooked, infertile, cancerous.”

Go get a copy of ‘Going Off Script’. You’ll thank me for it later. 🙂

8 Money-Making Tips From Investment Guru, Jim Rogers

Jim Rogers gave a talk recently, right here in Singapore, about the current global financial situation. The event had a huge turnout, with many people from the banking sector all eager to pick Jim Rogers’ brain and score some investment and career tips. Some people actually flew in from their home countries just to hear what Jim had to say!

His talk was part of the ‘Industry Guru Series’ by the People’s Association. This particular session featured Jim Rogers and Minister Chan Chun Sing, and cost each participant just S$10 (inclusive of dinner and an autographed copy of Jim Roger’s book ‘Street Smarts’)!

Jim Rogers Singapore

Jim Rogers talk attendees

[ Pictures from Minister Chan Chun Sing’s Facebook Page ]

Before he began his presentation proper, Jim brought his daughters, Happy and Bee, up on stage to educate / entertain / impress the audience with their admirable command of Mandarin. Elder daughter Happy recited the poem  靜夜思 by Tang dynasty poet  李白 while the little one performed a tongue twister (绕口令) in Mandarin. The duo, aged 12 and 8 respectively, blew us away with their crisp Mandarin and stage presence. Yes, I adore the two kiddos, and Jim, BUT Jim is NOT impressed by Singaporeans’ command of English / Mandarin AT ALL. *hint hint*

Here are 8 money-making ideas from Jim Rogers:

  1. Own real assets: gold, silver, agricultural products.
  2. Be contrarian. If everybody is thinking the same way, then somebody is not thinking. Be very curious about the world. Think independently. Don’t follow the crowd.
  3. Career: Work for an Asian bank instead of US one.
  4. Learn about selling short. If a disaster comes and you sell short, you might make a lot of money. Gain knowledge first.
  5. Buy a Reverse ETF.
  6. Chinese tourism is going to explode for years to come.
  7. Is the Malaysian ringgit going up or down? Jim: “Tell me when he’s gonna leave. Tell me the week before and we’ll buy lots of ringgit. Disaster always leads to opportunity.”
  8. Everything in agriculture has a great future. Buy futures, fertilizer or tractor companies, buy a farm. If all else fails, be a farmer.

After hearing from Jim, I was eager to find out what the Minister had to say. And he did not disappoint. I suspect he has hired a speaking coach. (Aside: Did you hear his speech at the Bukit Batok rally on 5 May?!)


Here are some highlights of what Minister Chan Chun Sing shared with us that evening:

  1. Look outward: Our fate is determined by forces beyond our shores.
  2. Every generation must earn its keep, do not leave a burden of debt for the next generation.
  3. While our total fertility rate is at 1.9 (close to 2), one-third of our people are not getting married.
  4. Productivity has to increase.
  5. We have to stay together in spite of race or religion, in good or bad times.


At hearing from Jim and Minister Chan, two things were apparent:

  1. Competition is now stiffer. And complacency will kill jobs and companies.
  2. The only way to improve ‘job security’ is to up your productivity.

I walked away from that session with no doubts in my mind that Jim Rogers’ kids will beat most of ours within the local education system. Yup, his daughters study in local schools, not the international ones! Besides the sheer economic advantage they have, thanks to their father’s astounding wealth, the children have direction. They are not learning Mandarin (and clearly excelling it in) so as to pass exams in the government schools here. They are doing this with the aim of heading for one of Beijing’s best universities in future. Also, their formidable command of Mandarin will stand them in good stead after they graduate, thanks to the governesses and teachers their parents have hired to communicate to them (only) in perfect Mandarin. Many parents in Singapore think that Mandarin is not that important, since most of the subjects taught in school use English as the language of instruction. How short-sighted we are.

How To Keep Your Job In An Economic Downturn

The government and Labour Movement keep stressing on productivity and how we should upgrade our skills (double skill, triple skill, upskill, reskill, secondskill). But what I find lacking in the workforce is that sense of urgency, and readiness to gear up for the turbulent times ahead. Just as in an aircraft, we watch the in-flight safety demonstration, hear the instructions of what to do in an emergency, and buckle our seat belts before anything untoward happens, not during an emergency, and certainly not after.

Point is: What are you willing to do in order to keep your job / income, before plans to fire you have already been made?

Consider the factors that are beyond your control, and those that (fortunately) you have some control over.

Firstly, those factors you have no control over would be decisions your employer makes, such as who to fire first. Usually, the more senior, expensive, and “redundant” workers get the axe first. Hopefully, employers and government will feel pressure from NTUC and the unions to retrench Singaporeans last, and give foreigners ‘priority’ when it comes to getting that golden handshake.

Also, if the company decides to drastically downsize or shift its operations elsewhere, and you are unable to follow, then it’s time to get a new job, or start that business you’ve always been dreaming about?

But keep your hopes up! There are factors which are WITHIN your control, and which can help you safeguard your ricebowl, especially if you are the sole breadwinner for your family!


I’d say it’s almost human / natural to become comfortable (or complacent) where we are. If you’re a civil servant and you think you’ll never be retrenched, yes, I’m referring to you too! If you’re not a civil servant, but you’re thinking like one, then you’d need to wake up your idea fast! You have to learn to get uncomfortable whenever you start feeling too comfortable. If you don’t feel the need to constantly learn, unlearn and relearn, then one day, you might find the rug pulled out from under you and you’re sitting with your bum on the floor wondering what just happened. Truth is: There are no iron ricebowls anymore.

One thing I learnt from reading a book about Elon Musk, the co-founder of PayPal, founder of Tesla (electric car company), and the guy who wants to help us ‘colonize’ Mars, is that employees have to step up whenever the company is facing troubled times. When Tesla was going through a rough patch, and orders were dropping (due also in part to the economic climate), it was an all-hands-on-deck situation as technicians, engineers and other support staff all picked up the phones and started reaching out to consumers, selling cars, and filling out orders. They KNEW that if they didn’t do it, the production line would stop moving, and they’d be out of jobs. Whether you THINK you are a salesperson or not, congratulations, you’re now one! Until the orders have all come in!

If you want to show your employer that you are invested in the future of the company, believe in its mission and direction, then you might even want to offer to do what some of Elon Musk’s employees did: They converted their salaries into stock options instead (they were betting on the company’s future), some took out money from their own pocket to become investors in the company, and others put in extra hours at work just to ensure the company gets back on track. When they help the company succeed, they are actually also helping to keep their ricebowls intact. On top of that, they have shown to their boss that they love the company enough to want to be shareholders. And you certainly do not want to fire your shareholders, right? 😉

If you’re thinking “No, I can’t possibly do sales calls. I’m terrible at cold-calling!” then how about washing the toilets and taking over the job of the janitor? If the latter’s less appealing, then how about learning how to sell over the phone? You can pick up any skill you want, what with the range of courses available, and the support from the Government, the Labour Movement, and your own employers. Are you willing to change your mindset, and upgrade your skillset?


I read with interest the recent news article about Mediacorp actress, Julie Tan, taking a 6-month break from acting to pursue an acting course at the New York Film Academy. This comes right after she won three trophies at the recent Star Awards: the Rocket Award, Top 10 Most Popular Female Artiste Award, and Best Supporting Actress Award.

Many artistes in her situation would probably give themselves self-congratulatory pats on the back and rest on their laurels. But she’s off to New York to hone her acting skills. Perhaps, she’ll win the Best Actress Award in future? 🙂

What about you? What are the skills you currently possess? Which ones need an ‘upgrade’ now? What new skills would you require in order to help your company become the best and the most innovative in its industry?


By ‘jet set’ I mean that you are ready and willing to travel for work purposes. Elon Musk’s SpaceX engineers flew wherever they had to be for the rockets to be launched. In a biography of his, I read that engineers sometimes flew in Musk’s private jet and one person usually had to sit in the toilet for the takeoff and landing, because there weren’t enough seats for all of them. But it made more sense (and ‘cents’) for the staff to fly to where the rocket would be assembled and launched, rather than for Elon to recruit and train new staff in that area.

A friend of mine has recently moved over to Singapore with her husband. His employer had shut down the factory in Malaysia and moved operations over to Singapore. If he was reluctant to come over to Singapore, or if she had not been supportive of the move, then he would have found himself out of a job. He’d have become a retrenched PMET in Malaysia, just like many of his ex-colleagues.

It was arguably not too difficult a move as Malaysia is located so close to Singapore. And they can return home to visit their families pretty often. However, there are always some sacrifices to be made. For one, my friend had to quit her job in order to move to Singapore with her husband. Her income has definitely taken a hit.

Will you be willing to travel for work, if it means you get to keep your job, and maybe even achieve greater success in your career? Would you be happy to take a Business Mandarin course in order to aid your business negotiations in China, for instance?


Jim Rogers painted a pretty grim picture for us that evening. He’s not positive about the global economic situation, but he’s confident in our government (that’s why he moved his entire family here, and that says a lot). But a rich man like him would be able to ride the waves of a financial crisis. In fact, from short-selling, he might get even richer (imagine that!). What about the rest of us?

Do you have the right mindset, the relevant skillset and the readiness to jet set, even before the first financial tsunami hits our shores? We’ve probably already experienced the first few hard-hitting waves already, with many PMEs already out of work. Will you buckle up and ready yourself for a rough ride, or will you pretend that being in a plane is as safe as sitting in your sofa at home? In-flight safety announcements and calls to up productivity are oft-repeated to the point of being annoying, but they are there for a reason. And that reason will be made known to us very soon indeed.

Book Review: Kevin Tsai’s Way Of Speaking (蔡康永的说话之道) Part 1.3

Kevin Tsai book

This is the final post regarding my review of Kevin Tsai’s book ‘说话之道’ (Book One). (Read Part 1.0 and Part 1.2). If you have yet to read his book, I highly recommend that you get your hands on a copy soon. I love the illustrations (actually short comic strips) within, and the anecdotes that Kevin shares. Each chapter makes one good point, and each chapter is short (possibly 3 to 4 pages only). Even if you’re not a fan of reading Chinese books, just one chapter a day before you go to bed should not be too difficult.

And no, I have yet to figure out the rationale for using an umbrella as a prop for the book’s cover shoot. Would you have any idea as to why he did that? (>_<)

Anyway, here are the rest of my learning points from Book One…

  1. Be involved and interested in conversation with your elders.
  2. Self-deprecating humor helps break down barriers. Don’t attack someone just to butter someone (else) up.
  3. Choose topics that everyone can participate in.
  4. Exit quietly.
  5. Don’t say “I understand” when you don’t / can’t.
  6. Go for win-win situations when asking for help.
  7. Be ready to apologize when you are in the wrong.
  8. Read between the lines.
  9. Return praise.
  10. Personalize messages.
  11. Look for clues regarding the person’s character.
  12. Learn to care for others.
  13. Make sure they can feel your ‘care’ for them.
  14. Avoid jargon. Have your own speaking style.
  15. Communication: more than words.

And I’m moving on to Book Two. 😀 There’s just so much to learn from this man that I’m glad he found the motivation to write book two. He had previously shared (on TV) that he was most reluctant to write book one. He probably thought no one would want to buy his books. (Hurhur) But the illustrator (likely a friend) had told him that the money he would receive for the artwork was money he needed to pay for his studies abroad. And so, that ‘pushed’ Kevin to quickly get the manuscript done so his friend’s plans would not have to be shelved indefinitely. All’s well that ends well, I guess. 🙂

Book Review: Kevin Tsai’s Way Of Speaking (蔡康永的说话之道) Part 1.2

Kevin Tsai book

Perhaps you’ve read my earlier post about Kevin Tsai’s popular book ‘说话之道’, or perhaps you haven’t but that’s fine. Reading Chinese books is not exactly a hobby of mine so good luck to the Government in wanting to promote literature in our mother tongue languages when many in this country don’t even like reading to begin with. LOL!

This book is really good though, and I think there should be an English translation, if there isn’t such a version already.

Anyway, here are more of the learning points from Book One…

  1. Remove the ‘sharp edge’ in your questions.
  2. Ask questions that will elicit a variety of responses from your audience.
  3. Avoid the (many) landmines: finances, illness(es), relationships, kids’ grades, politics, sports, hated celebs, religion, vegetarians vs meat eaters, etc.
  4. Numbers are more memorable if you link them to events. DO NOT ask about how much a person makes when you’ve only just met him/her!
  5. Pauses are important. Let your voice be a mental massage for others, not a verbal lashing.
  6. Insert a ‘hook’ in your conversation so people follow.
  7. Don’t wait too long before revealing the ‘climax’ in your story.
  8. Avoid canned jokes. Good jokes should prompt conversation after.
  9. Ask questions which prompt the speaker to continue.
  10. Be outstanding without sabotaging yourself.
  11. Don’t be in a hurry to answer. Keep quiet if you’ve heard that joke before.
  12. Be the first to state your name.
  13. Give praise that is desired.
  14. Don’t answer your own question, and don’t set traps for people to fall into.
  15. When on stage, make a good point every 15 minutes.

I’m not done with the book yet. Yes, it’s frustrating because I usually do speed-reading for books written in English. Gah! So I’ll have to update this blog again later. But don’t hold your breath. It’ll take a while. 😀