Month: February 2016

Capitalism and the nation’s soul.

-SIGH- /rant post ahead. Last year, IKIGUIDE did an interview with the very non-assuming Anthony of Booktique. I just read this piece of news on the possibility of Booktique closing down and all I can do is to sigh. Insane retail rental. Capitalism. Instant gratification and the “sunset” industry. These are harsh realities facing any business owner in Singapore. You get it worse if you belong to the black collar industry. You get it ten times worse if you are a black collar person with zero business background/intuition. I’m really at a loss for words. -HUGE SIGH-  You know, some say that Singapore is a perfect country, or “too perfect”. That’s why people choose to leave, because things are sort of “too perfect” here and getting increasingly expensive. Income gap is widening–they moan–the richer folks are losing touch with the “ground”, etc. Here,  it is plain for all to see on instagram. -.- As a nation, it is a real possibility that we sort of already traded part of our soul for money and profits. Which isn’t surprising, really–we know that Singapore is …

The truth of the market economy.

There is only one truth to the market economy: Demand and supply. I wondered why I took so long to believe this. I mean, I’d always understood this sentiment, but never did fully internalise it. Until life knocked this teaching into me.  The market honestly doesn’t care about how educated you are, how good looking you are, or how rich your parents are. The market only cares about the value you can deliver. As long as what you offer satisfies a demand, there would be a business. The demand might not even be practical or “solid”. It can be a fantasy, a dream, a hope. It might even be the boosting of egos, or the wish to self-destruct. Perhaps this is the divergence between societal’s ideals and the market economy. Society might look up to all highly educated folks–“Oh you are so smart!”. Fancy hearing this everyday, I’m sure it must be good for the ego! But does it mean that all highly-educated folks might be rich, or might make long-lasting contributions to the market economy/ society? The answer is not …

“Mokusatsu”: The Japanese art of silence and ambiguity.

I read “The Empire of Signs” by Roland Barthes last year. There was an interesting proposition–that the Japanese are masters of “signs”, whereas Westerners have a “fixation with words”. This stance greatly intrigued me, because it implies that ambiguity in the Japanese context might be perceived as ideal, even considerate. Whereas ambiguity may not be so desirable in the Western context. This further implies possible intercultural miscommunication. Recently I’d been reading up a little too on the Japanese World War II history, and their process of surrendering. It is interesting to note that the word “mokusatsu“, which has a wide range of meanings in Japanese, ranging from “no comment”/ “to reserve comment”/ or “to ignore with contempt” was used in Japan’s response to calls to surrender. Basically, when the USA asked the Japanese empire to surrender, this word was used deliberately by the Japanese emperor to appease both the left and right-wing of the parliament, with its intended ambiguity. For, how can one interpret silence? The left-wing which wanted Japan to surrender to minimise losses would …

In a Rush.

Quick post before I go to zzzzz. It’s 3am here now. Recently I’d realised that I’d been accustomed to being in a rush, but not necessarily being productive. Or rather, in a rush…to nothing. This has started to scare me a bit, because I realised how easy it had been/is to do things without a vision, a bigger picture, or a plan in mind. I need to consciously take note. It’s probably the environment.

Like means like.

Can you choose to un-like a person you once liked a lot? Or rather, can you choose to rationally convince yourself to un-like a person you like? Especially when you know that the “liking” is toxic and hurts a lot. I think it cannot be done. Or at least I cannot do it. What I can do at most is to distance myself. But given the appropriate time lapse, a sound opportunity and the correct “safe” occasion, I’d still express “like” towards the person. I guess what I’d learnt over the years is that it all boils down to whether this expression of “like” is wise. This “like” need not be in the romantic sense, by the way. In Chinese, there is this term “敢爱敢恨” which means “dare to love/ dare to hate”. I know people like that, and I think they’re a bit extreme and scary. But I admire their self-honesty. All in all, can we actually be honest with ourselves and admit that “like” means “like”? Ideals can be unreachable, fantasies can be fake, but I think …

Bridging good intentions and good actions.

Recently I’d been thinking hard about what it means to be a good communicator. Have you ever looked at a particular situation, and then really stood back in shock and wondered– “Why has this gone so wrong? Everyone started with the best of intentions.” – I guess what I’d realised recently is that there is a gap between intention and action, and we should not always assume that good intention is always conveyed into actions that are necessarily interpreted as positive. Let’s think about the intentions behind three of the most common issues that affect most of us: Wedding, house and kid. Is there anyone who starts a wedding preparation process wanting it to fail? Is there anyone who builds a house wanting its inhabitants to suffer? Is there any mother who gives birth wanting the worst for her kid? — Is it not true that bad outcomes result because along the way, people– (A) Lose sight of their original good intentions? (B) Talk (or for that matter, do not talk) in a way that causes their good …

Strength and character.

Today I looked up at the beautiful night sky and thought of a pretty friend who committed suicide 5 years ago. She had an aspiration of becoming a news broadcaster. She was a perfectionist. And a great singer. She was beautiful. I told her after watching her on stage one day, in awe–“I think you were stunning!” –and she downplayed it. I went to her performances whenever I could. I still feel acute pain today whenever I hear her voice. I really miss her. You would have been on TV today if you were still alive. We would have been serving the masses together. I was fondly reminded of her recently because of the Channel 8 Korean TV drama about the two sisters who work as news broadcasters. Whenever I see the protagonists I’d think of this pretty friend who is close to perfect on all measures. This friend is someone I look up to, because she is very true to herself and had character. She always does things with clear intentions and decisive actions. She’s someone I could trust, and we had …

How to deal with conflicts in the wedding preparation process.

Yesterday I went down to La Belle Couture, and had a really great chat with Peiru. If you are curious about La Belle Couture or Peiru, you can read her interview with Ladyboss here. Part of the conversation really got me thinking not just about conflicts in weddings, but really about conflicts in life. I think we can see “weddings” as a metonymy of “life”. That is to say, thinking about conflicts in life can be reduced to thinking about conflicts in the wedding preparation process. So today, I want to gather some of my thoughts from yesterday’s inspiring conversation and write about the one thing that has been on my mind recently. That is: “Weddings are supposed to be happy events.”   Related to that is the notion that– “The memory of your wedding is supposed to be a happy one.”   Then why do we hear of so many unhappy memories in the wedding preparation process? Nightmares include: Mothers fighting with each other because they wanted the same dress; Parents being unhappy because they felt that their voices weren’t heard; …

The 4 ways startups do great public relations.

Recently I’d learnt some amazing PR lessons from some of the startup companies I’d met, and honestly, I’m simply wowed by some of the methods. ^^ So before I go out today, I’d like to briefly write about the 4 ways startups do great PR. Goodie bags Startups that really go all out to promote goodwill give goodie bags regularly.  And they do this after a consumer/marketer/reporter/journalist does something beneficial to enhance their company name, or attend their exclusive events. This makes the person feel that they’d “earned” the goodie bag, and enhances a sense of belonging with the startup. Goodie bags are extremely fun to pack and receive!! But do make sure the things in the goodie bags are either useful, or cute, or both. After all, the aim is to enhance goodwill and  a sense of engagement with the said company. 2. Proactive Media Coverage The best PR managers I know who work for startups regularly submit their press kits to all relevant news/magazine agencies. They are extremely proactive with a never-say-die attitude, and often seek to cast …