Monthly Archives: November 2018

I distinctly remember that night, jogging through Robertson Quay, when a friend who started working in the National Parks Board, turned to me, and asked me the name of a tree.  I had then been reading NPark’s publication, 1001 Plants.

Perhaps to mask my ignorance, I recalled saying to him that we aim to know the names of 10 trees. Afterall we live in a garden in a city. Singapore, as you know was a barren piece of land, when the British left, and in the 1980s, the government took an active effort to plant a variety of trees on the roadside.

To this day, we debate whether “Know 10 trees” was his idea or my idea, but his Marketing Comms Director  posted it, the Postal Service SingPost took the idea and printed firstday cover stamps with the idea.

Well, I didn’t get a cent coming up with the idea, but being a stamp collector, I am pleased to inform you that our Philatelic service did a great job with the design. 

My point being. Simplify.

When you move into a new industry, a new sector, or want to understand a new field, what are the 10 things you must know. Or less. 

Don’t swallow the ocean. Not 1001. Start with ten, or five. Start now.

Ten people I want to connect with.

Ten future trends that can affect my industry.

Ten possible jobs I can pivot to. 

Start with an idea, and bring others along with you. 


In this digital age of selfies where narcissism is all time high, it is critical for self and employers to sieve through who is a real asset, and those who have a sense of self entitlement. 

Coupled with a talent to tell a good story, the blur becomes greater. It is not unusual for someone who is only a novice, yet feel s/he is entitled. Or someone who has more experience and yet feel that they are not as competent. 

Just sifting through the amount of “self-help” materials on resume writing and career coaching by people who have not much success themselves in searching for a job, the Dunning-Kruger effect becomes a good depiction. 

Everyone can give career advice. Check the credentials of the person giving you his.

But are you getting advice from a mentor who has broad exposure to all industries, especially yours? Someone who is constantly being in touch with understanding the different professions? Or someone who has great success in a very narrow scope?

Referring to advice given by Financial analysts in banks, Warren Buffet once commented, “Wall Street is the only place where people who ride to work in a Rolls Royce take advice from someone who takes a subway”.

Humans tell stories for centuries. According to Christopher Booker (2004), these stories can be divided into 7 plots. 

  • Overcoming the Monster.
  • Rags to Riches.
  • The Quest.
  • Voyage and Return.
  • Comedy.
  • Tragedy.
  • Rebirth.


Other application of 7 archetypes in branding: Jereme Waite, Keith Browning

Pryor and Bright (who was recently in Singapore to talk about the Chaos Theory), identified the use of these 7 plots in career counselling.

These “archetypal plots” may help to identify the kinds of stories individuals construct, and represent “systems of meaning”. Such systems provide insight into how individuals interpret their experience and the amount of  influence and control they over their circumstances.

Pryor and Bright proposed that counselling application could be used in these archetypes to “identify the plots underlying individual’s stories and provide alternative plots as new ways to perceive their careers and process new possibilities for how to move forward.”  

Case Study 1: Clients who lost their jobs due to corporate retrenchment may come with a “Tragedy” as the dominant plot which block their capacity to see new opportunities. 

Pryor and Bright suggestion: “Overcoming the Monster” would help them see that employment is a challenge to be met than a fate helplessly acceded to. 


Case Study 2: A client who was telling himself a ‘‘Rags to Riches’’ story of single-minded discipline and sacrifice. However, the problem was that the riches never materialised.  But the goal-fixated thinking and action reveals the individual’s overestimation of his ability to control his life and career.

Career Counsellor’s suggestion with client: They decided to recast his story in terms of ‘‘Rebirth’’. This led Max to start exploring by networking to open up new possibilities. 

Pryor and Bright acknowledge that this is dynamic, and our narratives can gear toward closed systems thinking as change and complexity continue to impact one’s life. At such a point, we may need an adapted narrative. 


Last night at dinner, my friend A recounted the “Sliding Door” theory of her husband’s career change, one event led to another. Her metaphor coincided with my chancing upon Pryor and Bright’s application of archetype storytelling to career counselling earlier. “Sliding Door” archetype falls under “Comedy” or “Happenstance” (Krumboltz), how small seemingly confusing change can lead to something harmonious in finding one’s calling.  I began to see the usefulness of archetypical stories we tell ourselves.

Applying the practice on self, I became more aware of the “victim” tragedy story I tell myself. Not useful. Perhaps a “Rebirth” story or a “Quest” of our journey of self discovery.  My digital storytelling mentor Angeline Koh describes her journey from “Digital Immigrant” to “Digital Native”, a “Quest” of life transformation into the Tech space or maybe even “Rebirth”.  Such stories can be very inspiring for self and others. Angeline has launched a MLC on digital storytelling at Growbe, if you are interested to learn how to create your own story.  


Find yourself stuck with so much disruption? Are you telling yourself a “Tragedy” Story?

Instead, can you reposition your narrative on a “Quest”? Or a Rebirth with new skills to career proof yourself?

What stories do you tell yourself? 

I am on a Quest to find more archetypes, and my next topic will be on Lolly Daskal’s “The Leadership Gap“.


Archetypal narratives in career counselling: A chaos theory application. Pryor, R. & Bright B (2008) [accessed Nov 15 2018].

Pryor, R. G. L., & Bright, J. E. H. (2003). The chaos theory to careers. Australian Journal of Career Development, 12(3), 12–20


I just tried out Haidilao, premium hotpot restaurant that was recently listed at the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Unfortunately, my family is not into hotpot, so I tried it out for lunch today. My bill for one person, 1/2 plate of sliced beef and 1/2 plate of tofu, one bowl of rice with a drink but no condiments came up to S$48.25. At that price, I will be able to have a 3 portion set lunch in an Italian Michelin 1 star restaurant.

Since when did Chinese hot pot become so expensive? Haidilao prides itself with premium service – which is true. The service staff was very prompt and attentive. A waiter weaves noodle threads from a flour dough in a dramatic flourish. The manicure service to reduce waiting time, I did not get to experience as I did not have to wait for my table. Plus the queue for free manicure was just too long.

What service really matters in the service industry?

Will a robot replace the waiter? Does it matter that someone knows my name? Celebrates my birthday? Pours my drink? Smiles at me?

Does the quality of food matter? Do I need to introduce new items in the menu?

A movie goer may not return to the theatre twice for the same movie, yes. (I too know someone who watched “Titanic” three times in the theatre.)

In an experience economy, what would make a customer return?

We need to ask these questions in the service economy.

Is your service valuable, rare, hard to imitate, and dependent on a unique organisation of relationship (VRIO)?

If not, what must you do to gain competitive advantage? Continuous learning.

After the IPO, Haidilao is now playing a different game by releasing new stories into the media. Expansion into global markets, using technology to centralise kitchens and logistics, robots as waiters.

Yesterday on Singles Day, 11 November Alibaba broke their online sales record yet again. I also heard an interesting story about a Dutchman, who filed a lawsuit to lower his age by 20 years to improve job and dating prospects.

Photo: a sketch at my portraiture class last week.

A motivational speaker and life coach by profession, he had declared the act was not a publicity stunt. Not to judge his action, since I do not know him nor understand his real circumstances, I sought instead to reflect how I would advise him if he were my client.

If indeed, someone gave you a magic wand, what would you want? The GROW Model is very useful.

Goals. What are your goals? In his case, 20 more years. But really, what are his goals? Dating a young woman in her 30s? Getting a job?

Someone once said to me. The best dopamine high is to be learning something.

Think of your goals in life as consisting 3 buckets.

1. Creating goals
2. Learning goals
3. Connecting goals

Even as I think about my goals for the 2019, in today’s digital age, options open up to take up a course in digital media and storytelling.

If indeed he has the body of a 49 yr old, as his doctors tell him, what would a 49 yr old do?

🦁Climb Mt Kilimanjaro?
🦁Reach out to 69 people to give them free coaching sessions?

My 62 yr old friend immediately sent me photos of an 88yr old radiographer in Singapore who is still working. Donald Trump is 72 yrs old. Hillary Clinton, his contender at the elections is 71 yrs old. Neither seemed to think their age was an issue. If Tinder app does not allow you to have dating options with women half your age. What other options do you have?

What would I want to be, live and feel at 69? How will I live my life differently then?
How will I live my life differently?

1. My assets
If you feel down and out, what assets do you still have? Youth. Loved ones. A home. Why is this man so eager to change his age? What did he perceive to be the advantages of youth? If you have lost hope, do a stock take of what you still have. No regrets. Start today.

2. Establish boundaries for yourself
Dont take bullshit from others. In some societies, age = wisdom. Are we idolising youth? At the same time talking down to the young?

3. Do no evil
Would I be willing to deceive others and myself. Lying about my age?

Be the best that I can be
Are there certain perceived injustice that I feel that people have against me? Age? Being female? My looks? My race? Am I comfortable in my own skin? If not, who am I blaming? Jimmy O Yang, Crazy Rich Asian Star was especially insightful when asked if he had experienced racism before getting his break as a standup comedian. He said, he realised it was more helpful to ask if he had done all he could to improve his skills. Be the best you can be.

4. Being relevant
No doubt this man is feeling irrelevant. He is experiencing a gap between his target audience and himself. He should be applauded for taking action, except that his action is the wrong one.

We crave the approval of our ideal customer. Perhaps his real intention is to raise a mirror at society at our preference to deceive ourselves and others. At our idolising youth. At youth’s ignorance on the wasting of our years. If so, he has indeed succeeded.

How can I be relevant to my customers? I am currently taking a MLC on digital storytelling@Growbe and it excites me to be learning something new. To learn new video editing software targeted at my clients.

TOP: How are these areas affecting your industry?


5. Be empathetic
The judge in this case has my admiration. He did not ridicule the man. Everyone is carrying on a perceived injustice in their head. Fighting an imaginary battle.

This morning I sensed a new spring in my steps. As if I had been given a new lease of life. Looking at each new experience as an opportunity than a chore.

How else would you use your time? I went for the Singapore Fintech Festival at the Singapore Expo.

How would you live your life differently today?
#Moment of change
#Moment of decision

Dutchman, 69, files lawsuit to lower his age by 20 years for better dating, job prospects, Europe News & Top Stories – The Straits Times

Are you up for a networking challenge?

15 suggestions for a 30 day challenge. Just pick ONE activity and do it consistently over a 30 day or 4 weeks period. Bite sized.

If you chose a weekly schedule, decide how many days you want to commit to the activity. Who is the organiser? Structure? Platform? Venue?

Move out of your habitual social comfort zone.
Fight your social filters of your usual cliques

1. Grab a coffee with a different colleague classmate everyday for next 30 days

2. Write a blog post 3 times a week for next 4 weeks

3. Share a Linkedin Post everyday for next 30 days

4. Coffee chat with a new person in a sector I want to pivot into, once a week for the next 4 weeks

5. Network for a social cause: start something. Use network to support a voice

6. Network around a problem: get a group of people who will help you solve a problem

7. Network to learn something: breakfast group that discuss “exchange rates” ( sthg for headlines).

8. Book club: discuss a book relevant to the industry of your choice

9. Network with your former colleagues

10. Network with your professional association

11. Network around a theme: eg visit the top attraction sites in Singapore

12. Around an idea: raise funds for …

13. IE-SMU Alumni group

14. Goal: Climb Mt Kinabalu in Malaysia, round a group to train together once a week

15: Goal: run a marathon – form a running group

Think aloud:
1. What is my Goal
2. Who is in my community? What are their challenges?
3. How do I structure my networking: schedule, platform
3. My Buddy: accountability and feedback
4. Reflections: what have I learnt about myself

Photo and quote done by my 10 yr old niece. Desert is of course spelled with one “t”.


Are you a prisoner of the past, or a pioneer of the future? – Deepak Chopra


1. Pink moss of Hokkaido

My tribute to the color pink:


2. Pink shrimp
3. Pink water lilies arising from mud
4. Pink Longevity birthday buns representing peaches

Photos all taken by me.


5.My melody, Sanrio Christmas at Changi
6.Pink Ginger flower used in rojak salad.


7.Pink maguro
8.Pink chinese new year money envelopes
9. Pink lily


10. Roseate Spoonbill at the Jurong Bird Park, looking sinister

Think out Loud
Does pink calm you down?
Whats your favourite de-stressor?

We overthink the color pink. Some say its a sign of weakness, others say its romance. Some say its for girls. Others say for boys.

We are products of our times, and we attach meaning to something so neutral and beautiful as color.

There is research that showed men who wore pink earned £1,000 more and likely to have an MBA than those who wore white. By the way, the late Minister Mentor’s favourite shirt color was pink. (When he was not not campaigning. Otherwise it was white.)

We overthink many things.

Note to self: Im getting my man some pink shirts just in case, the research is right.

Is there a color of success in your organisation? Blue shirts (IBM), white shirts, black turtle neck (Steve Jobs), grey Ts (Mark Z)?

This was forwarded to me via Whatsapp from my Chinese Toastmasters Club by 刘月梅。If you are the original author, please let me know via comments so that proper attribute can be returned to you for the hard work.

Personally Ive not tried any of these sites except Youtube. I like Quora for datascience topics. Vault and Wetfeet for careers related matters. Singapore National Library app remains my favourite for eBooks.


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There are days where I just can’t get started. One tip I learnt is to create a list of 10 things.  If you can’t think of how to start, just list down 10 random things on your head.

  1. Ten ways to cook egg
  2. Ten dream destinations for holiday
  3. Ten places for romantic breakfast
  4. Ten of my favourite books for career
  5. Ten best blogs for career change
  6. Ten of my favourite TEDX
  7. Ten short getaway holidays without leaving Singapore
  8. Ten rituals before I start work
  9. Ten things to accomplish before Christmas
  10. Ten new things I want to learn in 2019

What’s your favourite way to get out of the doldrums?


Picture created by my 10 yr old niece for my blog.