“People may forget what you say or write, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Read an article from Business Times and I quote in full below. Blogging it down and bookmark for future reference for me to put things in perspective whenever work overwhelms life.

A year of beer, fear and tears

Amid the uncertainties, it’s important to take stock of all things that have shaped us – both good and bad

WHEN I started this column about two years ago, I thought it would be nice to round off each year with my own reflections on workplace lessons learnt. Sort of like a time-out to do my own annual review.

But when I look back at 2017, I feel a strong need to reach out for a beer.

There’s no way for me to mince it – this year was a painful wake-up call on so many levels. The retrenchments and restructuring that have plagued many industries finally came for us. Waiting for the axe to fall was possibly worse than the cut itself, as rumours had been swirling the past few months.

It was not like I was unaware of the state of affairs in the industry. I have seen the labour statistics. I have written articles on the displacement of jobs in the new digital economy. I have even helped retrenched relatives polish their resumes.

But nothing quite prepared me for the moment when I witnessed it myself. It was messy, it was human, it was heartrending. For weeks after that, those of us who remained were all pretty much walking bodies, numb to the world. I cannot even begin to imagine how the others felt.

My intention is not to dredge up the past and reopen old wounds. But rather, what we all want is healing – and closure. It’s been several months and many of my former colleagues have moved on to bigger and better things. But I don’t think any of us – be it the retrenched, or the people left behind – will ever forget that day. And we shouldn’t.

For me, lesson No 1 is to never give your heart and soul to any company – perhaps just your time and skills. It’s not about being cynical. The reality is that it is not rational to expect loyalty, but if you do, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment.

“It’s just business, nothing personal,” they always say. But of course it gets personal. For many of us, our work is firmly entrenched as part of our identity. When our jobs become redundant, we tend to extrapolate it to think we are redundant. And for good reason – many of us pour out too much of ourselves into our jobs.

My biggest takeaway from the entire episode is to never let my work define me. Yes, it will always be a significant part of my life. But it is not everything.

I can always trust my dad to put things in perspective. He once saw my article on the front page of the paper. “That’s nice,” he said. A few hours later, I found out that he had since read it and used the paper to line the garbage bin.

But it encapsulates things quite perfectly, don’t you think? What you accomplish today can be quite easily forgotten tomorrow. It’s much easier said than done, but I’m learning not to get so hung up over the small things that I end up losing sight of the big picture. There is more to life than to make a living.

Taking charge

This means trying not to burn my nights and weekends on work, unless I want to burn out. For many of us, the idea that there could be one day where you are given just a few hours to pack your career into a cardboard box changes your perspective in life quite considerably.

It also doesn’t mean you do a half-hearted job. On the contrary, do what you can with what resources you have. Job pride is a great and rare thing, but I have learnt that one must always do it for your own future’s sake – not because that’s what you’re told to do.

This also brings me to the other lesson that I’ve learnt from this entire episode. I cannot emphasise this enough: take charge of your career.

There are many things that we cannot control. But there are a lot more that we can. This means thinking seriously about what you want to do five years, 10 years from now. What skills do you need to know to get there? What resources do you need to get better? These are all real questions that we should stop putting off.

A friend once told me, perhaps in the heat of the moment, that I only ended up where I am because of luck. I was stung, but perhaps there was some truth in it. All my life, I never really planned where I wanted to go. I never thought of being a journalist. It just happened to be the only opening available when I graduated. And after that, how I ended up in The Business Times was because an acquaintance casually mentioned that it is a great place to work, despite never having worked here. Coincidentally, there was an opening. It’s been more than four years since.

Having friends as colleagues

But I think the time for trundling along in one’s career is over. Taking charge of your career doesn’t just mean ambitious plans for the future. It also means having some self-awareness of where you are at right now.

If you are stuck doing mundane work that is not going to add to your portfolio in the future, it’s time to re-evaluate your job scope. Being self-aware also means you know when to say no to bosses when your plate is already full and what skills you lack that hinder progression. These are all very unsexy issues that are easy to dismiss, but we can no longer afford to wait.

This year may have been grim, but contrary to what I’ve been going on about, it wasn’t all bad. There were many poignant memories made. This year’s office party proved to be the most epic one yet. Karaoke sessions with colleagues – correction, friends – and having them endure my best Taylor Swift impression is also one for the books. Throughout the year, whenever it got hard, it’s all these relationships at work that really helped me, ahem, shake it off.

A few of us were reflecting on the past year, and we all agreed that one common narrative is the need to put people first over process. Allow me to paraphrase an oft-cited quote by Maya Angelou: “People may forget what you say or write, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” It’s something I still struggle with. Truth be told, I always find people the absolute best and also the downright worst part of the job. But as always, it’s a journey.

In the coming year, may we all have the ability to have a (metaphorical!) beer when it comes to things we can’t help. And enough coffee to sustain us for the things that we can.

Cheers to that.


What not to say to a fed up customer

Dear UOB credit card,

We have known each other for a good 12years right? (Since 2005) You are probably the first proper relationship I have had ever since I qualify to do so. 

You also have the honour of being the first that I insisted on terminating. 

You are really a piece of work, I remembered that I first requested for the late interest charge wavier after numerous button pressing for a SMS reply (yes, for something as minor as a late charge waiver, why even bother to get someone to speak to me? You have more urgent matters to attend to. I get that) so I received a SMS within 5 working days that my request has been rejected. So I called to get a human to talk to me, apparent this was the second time that I requested for a waiver.  There was a charge on the card for a $10 McDonald bill and subsequently late charge of $60 + interest of a few dollars. The human answering my phone took the mandatory “minutes” on hold to clear with his supervisor and told me that the waiver has been approved. So that should end right? Nope, he went further to inform me that the next time I commit the devious and unforgiving offence of forgetting to pay my bill , I will not be given a reprevive. 

And so the fate would have it, I was travelling and missed the payment date and got the same late charges and interests blah blah blah. 

My fault, so I did the whole robot SMS request for waiver and guess what? My request got rejected. Surprise surprise .

Obi good right? Who asked me to be so forgetful , especially since we have a relationship of 12years behind us.

Of course any relationship expert will tell you that any breakup should be done in person. I did my best and call you up.

And your human voice reminded me that I have to pay off that late charge and interests before I can terminate the card. Well, I made sure I got the total charges paid off, and I did what is needed – cut off this toxic relationship.

So good riddance to you, UOB.  #uobsucks #saynotoUOB 😂

Invasion of the vending machines

A sight that is more commonly found in Japan than in Singapore.

Spotted just outside International Plaza (facing the MRT exit) –  a row of vending machines that dispense neither food/snacks nor drinks.


Reminded me of the vending machine cafe that was launched recently and located in some remote corner in Sengkang (Blk 320C along Anchorvale Drive).  It supposedly dishes out hot food such as Nasi Goreng Istimewa or Vegetarian Rice Noodle with tables and chairs where can tuck into meals in comfort. Sounds a bit sad but I can understand – need hot food at weird hours, find a vending machine cafe.

But a vending machine that can dispense non-essential items such as jewelry, phone cases, knick knack? Why would it even be something I need to get at weird hours or because I am walking by?

Intriguing. We shall see how long they can last.


Just a small matter of contradiction

So apart from BREXIT (yawn) and Trump’s next tweet, the next big matter of concern for most Singaporean would probably Budget 2017 – an annual national event that has everyone going ” what is in for me?”

I asked the same question myself and sadly, this year’s budget is a disappointment on so many levels.

One of the more disconcerting issue is the water hike. As the Minister puts it – “water has to be priced fully as it is a matter of national security, and consumers must feel the full price of water to realise its value”. 

The same minister further adds “The consumer must realise how valuable water is to us in Singapore every time he or she turns on the tap, right from the first drop. This is the best way to emphasise the scarcity value of water.”

I get it – I really do. Hit where it hurts most and people will realise that it is a precious commodity not to be wasted. All for water conservation right?


Then the “gracious” move to quiet the protests all around. They announced a permanent increase in the GST Voucher – Utilities-Save (U-Save) rebate for eligible HDB households.In order to help households offset some of the increase in water prices

One of three components under the GST Voucher scheme, U-Save allows those living in one- and two-room HDB flats to offset about three to four months of utilities bills, while those living in three- and four-room HDB flats may offset about one to two months’ worth of such bills on average.

For the layman, the supposedly “poorer*” you are, the more rebate you get to offset the increase in water prices.

*Uniquely to Singapore, your wealth status is determined by the type of housing you stay in (another grouse for another time)

So the nett impact to the “poor” is negligible and at the same time, the increase to the “rich” won’t even cause them to bat an eyelid.

So where is the “feel the full price of water to realise its value” and the education aspect of all these?

I would rather they tell me straight in the face that they want the consumers to subsidise the cost of the water than to make all these strange justifications that do nothing but contradict each other.

But like all pragmatic Singaporean, I will grouse about it and felt left out for a while…

… then get back to the daily grind because there is nothing I can do about it.


Uniquely Singapore – the closer you stay to body of water, the higher tax impact you will feel







The ugliest hotel in Singapore

Built on the site of the former Midlink Plaza at 122 Middle Road, the Lian Beng-led consortium (Lian Beng Group, Centurion Properties, coffeeshop operator Chang Cheng Group and a vehicle controlled by K Box chain owner Jason Lee) acquired Midlink Plaza , which was a nine-storey strata office and retail building, through a collective sale in 2011, brokered by Credo Real Estate, now part of JLL. The building that now stands in its place is the new Mercure-branded 395 heritage inspired (?!?! – what is a heritage inspired room?!? Do they even know the history of Bugis area?) room hotels with some retail shops.

I happened to walk pass the bugis/middle road area and chanced upon this nearly completed building.

The picture on the left is the artist’s perspective (or rendering) and the picture on the right is the actual photo taken. And the problem is that it is not immediately apparent which is uglier… Just in case the above photo is too small, below is a bigger photo for your inspection.


It looks like someone took a part each from three different drawings and put them together.

Of course, design is subjective and differing from people to people. Do let me know if you come across a uglier tourist-class hotel (new) that is uglier than this monstrosity.

Handling Disappointment

The Girl had an appointment in town so the whole family trooped down on a Sunday afternoon as a show of support. As her appointment will take approximately 30-40minutes, I thought it was an opportunity for some precious father-son bonding time.

So our idea of the precious father-son bonding time was spending time at the library building up our knowledge at the nearest toy store where E will be running amok, trying to touch everything and pressing all the buttons of all the toys. The victim this time around was Isetan Scott’s toy department store.


He had recently also pick up a bad habit for asking people to buy him toys, no thanks to his doting grandparents.The reasoning that the daddy didn’t get any toys when he was young why the precious grandchild has such different treatment doesn’t resonant with them at all.

So without breaking the track record, he prompted selected one of the more expensive toy set whose box is bigger than himself, lifted it off the rack, turned around and looked at me with his happiest face and in his sweetest voice said,” Daddy buy?”.

Exquisite taste of my child – look at the price tag

Of course I redirected his attention to other toys that he has yet touched around the store and quickly let him forget this extortion  his request. I do have to make a note to say that he is quite mild and sweet in the sense that when we refused his request to buy, he seldom kicked up a big fuss.

And at the end of the bonding time, because he has been so well-behaved and also because Daddy was fascinated with Hot Wheels Colour Shifters car, we left the store with a gleeful boy (Elliott, not Daddy) and the said car to meet up with The Girl who had finished her appointment by then.

The car we bought was the same series but not the same model

Daddy managed to convinced him that the Colour Shifter we bought was the best toy car ever and he quickly picked up the fact that when he showered, he can bring the car into the shower with him and see it changed colour. He also noticed the water splashing on the car on the packaging, and keep going on and on about “splassshs” or the “colour change”.

Such excitement, such joy.

So when we got home, it was funny to see him getting so excited to shower. So we quickly set up the bath, opened the packaging, and dropped the car into the warm water to see the colour changing effect.




But nothing happened. Nil. Zero. Zilch. Nought.




E looked at me and I looked at him and the car, willing it to change colour but it didn’t.

I panicked and ran to the kitchen and poured some hot water on the car, willing it to change colour but it didn’t.

E sat in his bathtub looking at me expectantly.

My heart sank – The Colour Shifter we bought don’t change colour (So scrxw you, Hot Wheels). My first thought, how am I going to tell E that the colour changing car we bought doesn’t work?

In my panic mode, I called out to E and ask him to “err, go play with your shark toy first’.

And being a trooper like he is – he didn’t ask further and later continued to play with his car as if it is a normal car. We also hid the car after he has fallen asleep.

While I was trying to make sense of everything, The Girl wisely put it,” This will be one of many disappointment in life, he will learn how to handle it”.

But really, I wonder if it is E who cannot handle disappointment or his daddy who cannot handle E’s feeling disappointed.

In this case, the daddy has to learn to let go and let his child face the world.


But really, scrxw you, Hot Wheels. Never again.





Horses Grazing

So I recently acquire a painting of 4 horses grazing which was supposed to be painted by the late Xu Bei Hong (徐悲鴻). I don’t really know who he is before – (of course now I know a lot more about him and his mastery with painting of horses) and to me, art is very simple, either you like it or you don’t like it. (Update: Apparently, even my wife knows who is Xu Bei Hong)

For me, I like the life-like form that the artist painted using Chinese calligraphy style and hence the decision to acquire the painting. And apparently Horses symbolize strong energy and Horses artwork is great to boost energy into the home and office as well as attracting good luck, wealth and prosperity. So it is a win win win for everyone!

Four horses grazing

The painting came to me in a not so good condition having been kept in a storeroom for quitea while. To compound the issue, the painting is huge and quite heavy – I was in a dilemma on what to do next.

So I went in search of a framer in Singapore who is:

  1. reasonably priced and honest
  2. able to collect and deliver
  3. able to install the painting

I found 5 of them online, some are large established chain with storefront and some are sole proprietors without storefront.  Of the five I emailed, only two (sole proprietor setup) replied, and only one is able to provide all of the above

Jimmy who runs Call Me Frame contacted me back. He operates a small setup without a walk-in location, but his services are quite excellent. He will pick-up, frame (himself!), deliver and install any work, which creates a highly convenient service.

Prior to the appointment, I have sent across the photo of the painting and the location that I would like to install. So Jimmy is able to visualize and bring over a few sample frame that he thinks will be suitable for this particular painting. He is very professional and he is quite patient with art-noobs like me. The entire frame selection and method of framing took approximately an hour, throughout the process he was detailed in the explanation and selection. Through him, I understand the concept of “floating”, modern style framing method, type of clear glass/acrylic used etc.

He even breakdown his cost so that I understand his prices.  It is no brainer that I promptly engaged his service and a few weeks later, I have a handsome painting hang on my wall. So if you are looking for a good framer / installer that can provide you with that professional, reasonable one-stop services, give Jimmy a call.

Measurements (professional painting installer at work)


Finished product (Fast, clean and relatively noiseless)
Before and After ( I personally thinks it adds a bit of class to the whole space – a lot more classy now)

[Sidenote: So you might be interested if the painting is really a Xu Beihong <-which a true original cost million of dollars. Apparently, Jimmy said it is from one of his students and may worth some money. But it doesn’t really matter to me. I bought it because I like the painting, not for the potential value it can bring me.]

If you look closely at the paint, the strokes of the artist is strong and the overall proportion of the horses are good. They look healthy, fit, strong and ready for another gallop – which is more important that who is real artist.

And really if this painting is worth that bit more money, it can be the inheritance for Elliott.