When I was approached by my alma mater, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences (FASS) of National University of Singapore to be a mentor, I thought it was a brilliant idea. I accepted the invitation almost immediately.
 
It’s been some years since I left the faculty. But honestly, I truly enjoyed my four years as an undergraduate back then. I never thought I would have loved school so much. At varsity, I was granted a new found sense of freedom I never knew existed. I remembered I could pack my lectures and tutorials together so that I would only have a three or four day study week. And having to do cross faculty modules stretched my horizons. 
 
We were treated as adults and vested with autonomy to make our own decisions. Nobody was going to penalise us for not turning up for lectures or failing to hand in our assignments. We would only have our own grades to weep upon. 
 
Fast forward to 2014 and from undergraduate to alumni and now mentor…time really flies. Yet some things never change. If you are really passionate about something, you would go all out to achieve what you set out to do. 
 
I firmly believe this is the common conviction of both parties. Whether as a mentor or a mentee, the only way for a partnership to work and for both parties to reap maximum benefits is to be honest, upfront and giving. A mentor-mentee relationship is like any business partnership – both parties must do their part and invest time, effort and commitment. The symbiotic relationship cannot be over-emphasised.
 
I had the privilege to screen potential applicants prior to selecting my mentee. This beats being matched. So the responsibility of choosing someone suitable rested squarely on my shoulders. 
 
It was obvious from the onset that my mentee had to be someone who would be keen to be an entrepreneur and start any business in this lifetime. And the good news was that I did find that good match in this enthusiastic, young lady. 
 
At the FASS Mentorship Programme Welcome Dinner tonight, we were formally introduced. But because I have met my mentee prior to this (twice in fact), this evening was more a fun and casual event for us to catch up and enjoy the food…while watching the other mentees calm their nerves before meeting their mentor for the first time.
 
As a mentor, the qualities I would bring to the table would include sharing my first-hand experience on starting businesses with little capital down, and subsequently branding it. 
 
I am excited and I’m sure my mentee is equally so :)

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It’s the newest beauty pageant in town. Presenting Miss Singapore Islandia 2014. Organised to find a worthy spokeswoman for the $1.2 billion integrated resort to be developed near Bintan, the Islandia project positions itself as the ultimate relaxation, rejuvenation and retirement spot for investors. 
 
Being invited to judge the Miss Singapore Islandia 2014 pageant tonight at the Orchid Country Club Grand Ballroom was an honour. It also allowed me to re-connect with old and new friends from the pageant circle. I must admit tonight’s pageant is a refreshing change from the other pageants I have judged. It is interesting how unlike other pageants (which tend to focus more on the charity angle – a tad of an oversell perhaps?), this pageant is backed by a strong commercial intent as I’m sure the winner and the runners-up will be involved in some of their future roadshows both locally and internationally. This is a very good marketing strategy.
 
As a seasoned pageant judge, here’s my three tips to judge a beauty pageant and select the winner. I call it the 3 ‘Ps’. 

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Tip #1: Poise
 

In a beauty pageant, the importance of poise cannot be over-emphasised. Poise governs how we stand, walk and sit. It brings out the elegance in each and every contestant. In all my grooming and etiquette workshops, I share with female participants how to be a lady of poise. What more in a beauty pageant where I expect the element of poise to be elevated multifold.
 
From my experience, not all ladies know how to walk with poise in their heels. Some are barely coping trying not to fall while pushing themselves forward. If you can’t walk properly, there are only two reasons. Reason one is you lack practice. Practice does make perfect. Reason two is that the heels are too high for you. Petite ladies love killer heels of 5 to 6 inches. But little do they know it’s a killer wearing them. 
 
Besides walking, I also pay attention to whether the contestants smile on stage. Some wear a grumpy look on stage. Come on, I don’t owe you money. This IS a beauty pageant and you are expected to smile whether you like it or not. Credit must also be given to those who can flash their megawatt smiles and hold it there throughout the entire night. Kudos!

So if your poise is lacking on local soil, I doubt you can ever make it on the international stage.

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Tip #2: Presentation
 

Looks are not the only winning ingredient in deciding who to crown the eventual winner. Good communication skills are secondary to none. If a beauty queen cannot speak well, how can she represent Singapore in the international edition of the pageant? It would be a mockery and the judges would have failed in their task. 

From the Q&A segment, it was obvious many had come prepared for some of the questions. It’s wise to prepare but don’t appear to be rattling off your memorized scripts because it does look obvious. Instead, it’s wiser to remember information using visual images in your brain.

Every image tells a story. It’s just like watching a movie with different scenes. You recall that scene and then you fill in your own script. This will not only alleviate your nervousness on stage as numerous pairs of eyes are staring at you, but also allows you to think on your feet – a much needed quality to succeed on any stage.

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Tip #3: Presence
 

This may sound mean but I’m still going to say this. Some girls are just there to make up the numbers. It’s going to be a super long shot to even consider them for the Top 5 spots. That’s because when we judges look at the girls in the final lineup (when all are revealed on stage), they do not stand out from the crowd. I always say this – it’s either you stand out from the crowd like a bright spark or fade away in the background. Do you want to be a sparkler or are you content just to be a supporting cast?

Presence is the final P that sums out my 3Ps. Presence is so important in both the eyes and ears of us judges. We must see and hear you. We must be able to connect with you. 

Let me use an analogy. Just like in the real world, the importance of both online and offline presence is crucial to any business to survive. You have to tell the consumers you are there. Consumers need to know what services you offer and what’s your USP (unique selling proposition). 
 

Different judges have different judging criteria. For me, my 3Ps to judge beauty pageants is a time-tested formula as it transcends all stages – from the classroom to pageantry and beyond.

Congratulations to all winners!

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