It is heartening to see the seeds of entrepreneurship being planted early in youths today. I firmly believe innovation and entrepreneurship will be vital traits for every individual in this new economy. And with this new wave, brainstorming sessions, mentoring and networking events will soon become the new norm.
Quickening my steps towards the Mochtar Riady Building of the NUS Business School, I’m invited to be one of the judges of the NUS Entrepreneurship Society Bootcamp Pitching Competition 2015.

As the name suggests, the bootcamp is a 3-day event where like-minded enterprising students gather from the various local universities and polytechnics to brainstorm, refine and pitch their business ideas. They didn’t let their youth get in the way of chasing their dreams. It’s a celebration of the entrepreneurial mindset among today’s youths. And today being pitching day, is the culmination of their efforts.

Having started my own entrepreneurship journey in 2008, today’s judging duties offer me a dual opportunity to firstly reconnect with my alma mater and juniors; and secondly contribute to the local entrepreneurial spirit by helping the camp participants fine tune their business ideas after hearing their pitch.
Ranging from tech ideas, campus solutions to community support, you name it, the 5 teams had it. 
You may ask – in a short 5 minute presentation, how much can one really achieve? I say plenty. Let me share with you the three evaluation criteria that we, the judges, used to assess.
Evaluation Criteria #1: Novelty
There is a critical difference between creativity and innovation. Being creative means doing things differently from how it is currently being done in the market. Being innovative on the other hand, refers to coming up with a novel idea.
It is novel because you can feel it in your veins. Your heart beats faster, your ears open wider and you simply sit up in delight. It’s like going travelling to a new country without knowing what’s in store. 
I love novel ideas because you are the pioneer. No one else has done it. 
Evaluation Criteria #2: Feasibility
Many ideas remain ideas because they are not feasible. Imagine coming up with a brilliant idea…only to realise you cannot actualize it because of constraints. That is a great pity.
Ideas come in different shapes and sizes. Some are too forward-looking (and ahead of their times) whereas others require further fine-tuning before they can be implemented. 
Personally, I’ve had some ideas that were too forward-looking too back then in 2008. But as society progresses and technology advances, they can now be implemented.
Evaluation Criteria #3: Scalability
Your business cannot grow if it’s only made of one element – you. 
I consider scalability a very important factor – how can you grow the business in the next few years so that you can leverage on other people’s expertise and time? Are their new elements you can include in your business? Or create sub-businesses from the main one?
In short, you need to have a team. Being a one-man show is not going to give your business the edge over other competitors.
Besides these three evaluation criteria, there were other factors I considered such as presentation skills and confidence.

The points among the top few teams were very close. But at the end of the day, staying true to the three principles listed above, we chose our winning team. 
Yet I must offer my heartiest congratulations to all participants. Only by participating will you derive the true value of entrepreneurship. After all, the most important step in life is always the first step. Baby steps they may be, but gradually they will become great leaps of faith =)


It gives me great pleasure to bring my personal grooming workshops around Singapore schools since 2009. Besides training students and undergraduates, we have also been actively training teachers and lecturers. 
Why do teachers need to attend personal grooming workshops?
Well, there is no doubt the main role of teachers is to educate their students. Yet as role models, teachers have to first take care of their own appearance and how they conduct themselves. Only then will the students look up to them and respect them.

If you ask me, respect cannot be demanded. It has to be earned.

I remember respecting all my teachers back then during my school days because they carried themselves so well. But honestly, as society progresses, so have the rules of personal grooming. Male teachers certainly do not want to dress like their fathers or grandfathers in ill-fitting 1970s styles or pleated pants. Similarly, female teachers do not want to look as though they were transfixed in a time capsule.
Looking smart and professional is definitely going to boost teachers’ confidence and self-esteem. And this in turn will earn them the respect from their students.

The same goes for etiquette. Dressing well and not knowing how to carry off that finesse is not going to score any teacher brownie points regardless of the occasion. 
Personal grooming and etiquette go hand in hand as they complement each other perfectly. It’s like using a knife and fork. You can’t use one without the other.

Welcome to today’s personal grooming and etiquette workshop for teachers of Bukit View Primary School. And yes, did I mention the principal sat in for the entire workshop too?
Here’s my essential 3 point style guide to dressing that every teacher should have. Enjoy!

#1: Dress Simple

The main role of a teacher is to educate. It is not to distract. So keep your attire simple. Simplicity is key in any educational environment.
Teachers can dress simply by keeping accessories to a bare minimum. For female teachers, this means probably wearing only a pair of earrings and/or necklace. 

Strictly no bling bling earrings or pearl necklaces as these draw attention to the wrong place. 
Imagine walking into a classroom and having your students stare admiringly at your Channel earrings or Swarovski bejeweled necklace. They should be focusing on the lesson instead.
For male teachers, it is even easier to adopt simplicity. There is no need for a tie (except the school tie which must be worn during weekly morning assemblies). The only accessory a male teacher needs is a belt. Choose a nondescript one without a logo. 

#2: Dress Sharp

I don’t know about you but I always almost look at a person’s shoes. You may dress well but chances are you will neglect your shoes. That is sad but true.
A person is judged by his or her shoes. So if you have never really bothered, it’s time to sit up and get a good pair of comfortable shoes.
I suggest investing in a pair of leather shoes. This is especially for teachers who have to stand for hours in classrooms making good comfortable shoes an imperative must-have.
Male teachers can go for Oxford laced-ups or loafers. Female teachers can go for kitten heels or low pumps.
Remember, shoes are the finishing touch to a lasting positive first impression.
From shoes, let’s move up to your crowning glory. Yes, I’m talking about the hair. A messy, out-of-bed look is definitely a no no. So too is a hair that is too well greased that it attempts to give Saturday Night Fever a run for its money. Nor an Afro-styled hairstyle that is probably the result of having had a super bad hairday in the salon.
Appropriate amounts of hair products should be used to keep your hair in check. That’s all. 

#3: Dine Skillfully

It is interesting that as we all attempt to race against time, many job opportunities, business deals and project proposals are discussed over meals.
While new teachers may grapple with this fact, the more seasoned ones will know this is indeed true. Less you get overwhelmed trying to think how to react at a dining table, fret not. Here’s what you should be doing as you dine with finesse and style. 
Follow my 3 dining rules and you will be enjoying both your meal and the discussion.
•  Use your cutlery from outside in. You will never get lost ever again.
•  Keep the conversation going in between your meal. But do not talk when your mouth is full.
•  Order foods that you can manage. Steer clear of difficult to manage foods like prawns and lobsters. And from my experience teaching dining etiquette, most participants meet their nemesis called the spaghetti. 
It is always heartening to have participants come up to shake my hands and say thank you after workshops. This is a simple act of appreciation. I remember thanking my teachers after receiving my report cards each year. In the same manner, my teacher participants thanked me for delivering a fun-filled training, loaded with gems of wisdom that they can utilise in their careers ahead :)


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