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  1. I used to have bad skin in my younger days. It was so bad that the acne spots were big and red. And because I thought pressing the acne would help them heal faster, I would happily squeeze them. But I was dead wrong. The constant squeezing of the pimples led to many post-acne marks.

    When I realized what I had been doing was so wrong, it was too late. I swear I kicked myself hard enough for that lesson to be learnt the painful way.

    Moving forward, it was only when I started understanding more about my own skin and how to care for it that things became better.

    I can’t claim I have perfect skin now. But at least I know it has improved significantly to the extent that I receive compliments from my workshop participants. And I am happy to share what really works having tested so many different products.

    In this blog, I am going to share the 3 tips you should adopt to get great healthy skin. I personally swear by them. They have been my guiding principles over the years.


    #1: Know Your Skin Type

    This is a big one which many people neglect. Don’t feel obliged to buy just because the salesperson is pushy or super nice. Also, don’t blindly use what others buy for you. They may not suit you.

    Different skin conditions require different solutions.

    You really need to determine your skin type and how it behaves throughout the day.

    Does your T-zone tend to be oiler than the rest of your face? What do your pimples normally appear? Or do your skin feels tight when you try smiling?

    All these are tell-tale signs that a different skin type requires a different skincare routine.

    Using the wrong skincare will not only not solve your problem, it may even make it worse. Imagine if you use cream-based products for your oily skin problem, it is just like a nightmare waiting to unfold anytime.


    #2: Read Skincare Labels

    Sorry people, but I don’t go for brands. Just because Brand X is a huge brand does not necessarily mean the skincare product suits my skin.

    Instead, I follow a more tried-and-tested method of reading skincare labels. Just like how we read food labels to know what we are putting into our stomachs, so too must we read skincare labels to understand what we are slapping onto our face.

    Before buying any skincare, turn the product to the reverse side and look at the skincare ingredients. 

    The ingredients will always be listed in descending order of weight. Because many products are water-based, aqua or water will almost always be listed first.

    Next, check for the active ingredients. Active ingredients are like the star ingredients of the skincare product. They need not always be listed towards the top of the list.

    For example, if you are looking at a brightening product, then you need to check if Vitamin C is present. If it is present, then check the percentage. For Vitamin C to be effective, it has to be between 10% – 15%.

    Lastly, check if the skincare product contains any possible irritant(s) to your skin. Based on your skin type, you wouldn’t want to aggravate it further. Assuming you have dry skin, you would never choose a product that contains alcohol as that ingredient itself will dry out your skin further. And if you have clogged pores currently, then you must choose non-comedogenic products as the ingredients have been specially formulated to avoid clogging your pores.



    #3: Be Diligent

    Great healthy skin does not happen overnight. 

    You cannot be eating fried foods all the time and hope all the acne disappear.

    Similarly, you cannot start using your skincare products for a few days and hope they will miraculously solve all your skin problems.

    It does not happen this way.

    The human skin is a living organ and the skin cycle takes about 6 weeks to renew itself. Therefore, you need to be diligent and adopt good habits such as having a skincare routine that sticks with you over time.

    A proper skincare routine that is easy to follow would be the basic 3-step skincare comprising cleansing, toning and moisturizing. Do this twice a day.

    Remember, you only have one face and you use it daily to face others in all human interactions. When you start taking care of your skin (which I regard as your best asset) and treating it well, your skin too will reward you by taking years off your face.


  2. Let’s face it, school is not always the most favourite event in some teenagers’ lives, especially when poor hygiene influences their self-esteem and subjects them to ridicule by their peers. 

    Hygiene matters. A great deal. After all, good hygiene is essential for promoting good health. So it was a great idea to kickstart the year with a personal hygiene talk for the students – sharing with them the whys, the whats and the hows.

    If you too want to be a good role model to the rest of your peers, then you should read on and remember to put the tips into immediate practice.

    There are many aspects of personal hygiene – the most common ones being hair care, oral care, face care, body care and hand-feet care.

    In this blog article, I am going to focus specifically on body care. After all, it’s no secret that out of the five aspects of personal hygiene – our body covers the largest surface.


    Tip #1: Change Out Of Sweaty, Dirty Clothes After PE Lesson

    Perspiring is our body’s way of regulating its temperature, flushing out toxins and balancing its salt levels. Our skin is the second most important organ of elimination after our kidneys. It’s healthy to sweat, but you certainly don’t want to smell.

    In Singapore’s hot and humid weather, it’s hard not to perspire. But that should not stop us from practising good personal hygiene for our body.

    Most, if not all, schools have mandatory physical education (PE) lessons. While some PE lessons are held indoors (either in the hall or sheltered areas), others are conducted in the open (think open field, grass lawn or basketball court).

    Imagine going back to the classroom in a sweat-soaked PE T-shirt and shorts…I really shudder to think of that scenario.

    If it’s not bad enough for one such scenario, let’s multiply that effect by 40 times by imagining a class of close to 40 students huddled in one classroom.

    It is not only unhygienic for our skin to be in constant contact with sweat, dirt and impurities; it is worse to have to endure the stench that emits from the sweat.

    Here’s what you can do: A practical and easy-to-implement tip would be to change out of the sweaty, dirty PE clothes after the physical activity lesson is over.

    We all appreciate learning in a clean environment. And our body too will appreciate having a set of nice-smelling clothes to wear. So too will you be able to concentrate better in class.


    Tip #2: Use A Deodorant Or Anti-Perspirant

    Just like how earlier civilisations tried to overpower natural odour with sweet fragrances (typical examples would be Egyptians who created perfumes before 2000B.C; and ancient Romans who applied aromatics to their bodies), popular body care brands today too have come up with body care products to help combat body odour. The most commonly available ones which we can buy off the shelves are deodorants and anti-perspirants.

    When there is increased body moisture retention on the skin and more bacteria growth, the smell (body odour) becomes even stronger. That’s when deodorants and anti-perspirants come in handy.

    Personally, I will choose an anti-perspirant over a deodorant.

    A deodorant helps reduce smell. But an anti-perspirant inhibits perspiration. To put it simply, a deodorant is more reactive whereas an anti-perspirant is more proactive. Besides, every anti-perspirant is also a deodorant.

    I always believe in one mantra – that good hygiene and effective products must serve its purpose yet be easy to use.

    Always choose an anti-perspirant that provides all day comfort and does not have an over-powering scent. For girls, a fruity scent would be nice. For boys, go for a woody scent.

    Popular brands like Nivea have introduced three types of anti-perspirants – they are the easy-to-apply glide-on sticks, roll-ons and sprays. The decision you have to make is which one to choose. I like the anti-perspirant spray as it is more convenient and lighter to carry around.



    Tip #3: Consume The Right Foods

    You may think it strange how consuming the right foods can help contribute to good body hygiene. Well, it’s indirectly related.

    My own research has shown that consuming the right foods has a significant effect to help reduce body odour. And since we have to eat everyday, why not choose to eat healthy?

    As a strong advocate of vegetables, I would suggest you incorporate foods that are rich in chlorophyll in your diet. You will never go wrong with green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce and kale.

    Consuming green leafy vegetables has a powerful deodorizing effect. If you recall your science class, chlorophyll is vital for photosynthesis which allows plants to absorb energy from light.

    If I were you, I will also consume foods that have anti-odour properties as they help you naturally smell good. All of our herbs (some examples include basil, lemongrass, mint etc) fall under this category, together with my all-time-favourite bean sprouts.

    Good personal hygiene is for everyone. It boosts our self-confidence and increases our perceived value among our peers. I would definitely want to smell good and look great. And the easiest way to good personal hygiene is practising good body care.

  3. An elevator pitch is a short and succinct, yet effective way of introducing yourself to others. The sole purpose is to get a telephone number, email contact or job opportunity.

    It is crucial to know how to give an impactful elevator pitch because you never know who you are going to meet or bump into. As the saying goes “it’s not what you know, but who you know” that opens doors of opportunities for you.

    Having taught thousands of students from both the universities and polytechnics how to craft impactful elevator pitches, I’m going to share this same 5-step formula with you in this blog so that you too can make it to the top. 


    #1: Be Clear

    Be clear on who your target audience is.

    If you attempt to serve everyone, you end up serving no one.

    Honestly, you are better off being an expert in a chosen niche.

    Compare a personal trainer and a weight loss specialist. Who will you engage if you are looking to lose weight effectively?

    Well, the personal trainer will likely know how to train clients to lose weight. But I’m equally sure his repertoire also includes muscle building, toning and all the other fitness works.

    On the other hand, a weight loss specialist does nothing else except focus on weight loss. Day in, day out, weight loss is his one and only passion. In short, he lives and breathes weight loss. And naturally he becomes an expert in this field. And for this one reason alone, that’s why specialists always get paid more than generalists.

    A good way to decide who your target audience is to segment up the market – for example: babies, toddlers, teenagers, youths, working adults, mid-career executives, foreign students, seniors, CEOs, mothers, SMEs, MNCs etc.

    Ok, I’m sure you get the idea.


    #2: Be Memorable

    I’ve heard so many elevator pitches that are run-of-the-mill. Simply put, they are so bland and ordinary that I don’t get excited at all. And this is not surprising.

    School does not teach students how to craft impactful elevator pitches. Even renowned business college schools don’t teach this art because it is sacred and largely individual in nature.

    You can’t have two elevator pitches that sound exactly the same, can you?

    The nuance, the words chosen, the way you say it all makes a huge difference.

    In a world where our attention span gets easily hijacked, being memorable is key.

    Say what you want to say exactly the way how you would want others to perceive you.



    #3: Be Crisp

    When I say ‘crisp’, I’m referring to the length of the elevator pitch.

    I’ve heard pitches that are as long-running as a Taiwanese soap drama that runs over 1000 episodes. OMG!

    I’ve also heard pitches that are over faster than I can blink my eye.

    Both will not make the grade.

    A good guideline is 20 seconds. Anything longer, you should trim it. Anything shorter, you should add more meat to it.

    Just think about this – 20 seconds is definitely manageable. Essentially, your elevator pitch is meant to be a hook that gets the other person or company interested to want to find out more.

    Think of it like a striptease and not a full monty.


    #4: Be Confident

    Confidence is all about practice. Practice does not make perfect. What is perfect to you may be imperfect to me as we have different notions of what perfection entails.

    Instead, practice makes permanent.

    Practise your elevator pitch until it comes out of you naturally without you having to think of what to say next and how to say it. It should become second nature to you. No hemming and hawing.

    Remember your body language, eye contact and hand gestures play vital roles too in helping you score brownie points.


    #5: Use The Name-Drop Strategy

    Now this is a bonus tip I teach my workshop participants.

    Just like how we can AirDrop photos, documents and videos instantly on our iPhones, you must also learn how to use the name-drop strategy.

    If you have worked or interned at a MNC, SME or government organization (internships are the in-thing nowadays at both universities and polytechnics), then include the name of that company or organization inside your elevator pitch.

    Doing this gives you instant credibility and sends a message that you are not a complete novice trying to worm your way around. Instead you have had actual world experience in what you have just shared – regardless of your field, expertise or area of focus.

    So there you have it – my 5 tips to craft an impactful elevator pitch. If I were you, I will get down to business and start drafting mine because it does take a few revisions to craft a solid one that wows. You will marvel at the power of the elevator pitch once you have complete mastery over it. Remember, you owe it to yourself to unlock the door of opportunity in front of you.

  4. I always ask this question in class.

    "What are some of the reasons why you want to find a job?"

    And one answer is almost always a given.

    "Because I want to earn money."

    Most, if not all of us work because there is some form of salary, stipend or monetary reward we can look forward to.

    However meagre or generous the pay package is, negotiating your salary is always a sensitive topic most people avoid. This is because they do not know how to approach it and are afraid to open their mouths to ask.

    In this blog post, let me share 3 tips on how you should negotiate your salary (if you feel you deserve more than what is offered).


    Tip #1: Know The Market Rate

    Do your research.

    There is a graduate employment survey released yearly. This compiles the salary ranges of recent university and polytechnic graduates respectively from the different courses of study. Armed with this piece of information, you will have a better idea of the pay scale in the industry you have your sights on.

    When you know the realistic amount you can ask for, you will not be overpricing yourself. Neither will you be demeaning yourself of your worth.

    You can also ask peers working in the same industry for advice.

    I always advise my workshop participants to have a salary range, from $X to $Y. This allows you to be flexible and open to negotiation. 


    Tip #2: Showcase Your Proudest Moments

    Highlight your stellar achievements and justify how you have made a significant difference to that project or committee.

    Remember, it's your attributes and skill sets that matter. It is pointless to only list your achievements. You need to curate and showcase your proudest moments so they really make a difference and add brownie points to justify for the salary you are asking.



    Tip #3: Have Strong Belief

    Have confidence.

    In particular, your body language needs to project that.

    Do a quick self-check - are you slouching? Are your shoulders hunched? Or is your breathing faster than normal? These are all tell-tale signs that you lack belief that you actually deserve that higher salary.

    When you exude belief, it shows in your body posture. Your eyes light up, your shoulders are relaxed and you speak with direct conviction. If you are not convinced yourself, do you think others will be?

    When it comes to money issues, especially a sensitive one like the salary, everyone's intelligence will go up a few notches. Therefore, you have to ensure you are well prepared to negotiate your way successfully.

    Best of luck =)



  5. It’s that time of the year again where the air lingers with mixed feelings of happiness and sadness. There is happiness as it’s time for celebration for both a job well done and a journey well undertaken. Yet there is sadness as this is the very end of it all. Students will be going their separate ways – either to pursue further studies or start working.

    Welcome to the annual graduation party for school leavers. Today we commemorate this occasion with the Secondary 4 and 5 students from Pasir Ris Crest Secondary School…not forgetting the teachers as well.

    Organizing any event is challenging. This is because there are many different parts that must be fitted well together to ensure the overall event is a success.

    Success does not come overnight. It involves months of brainstorming, planning and re-adjusting to new variables and contingencies. But once you get into the groove of things, it’s just a matter of enjoying the process and savoring the fruits of labour. So whether it is a prom night or a graduation party (in this case), fret not as I’m about to share with you my 5 must-have tips to make your graduation event a memorable one.

    So let’s get started on these essentials…


    #1: Include A School Pageant Segment

    No graduation event is complete without a school pageant. I see this as the highlight of the entire graduation party. So remember to allocate enough time (at least 1 hour or more) for this segment.

    In universities, they call it the Hall King and Hall Queen. At a prom night, they crown Prom King and Prom Queen.

    For this graduation party event, we chose our Ms and Mr Crestian title holders. 

    It’s interesting as nominations were made both by the teachers and students. And when the nominated students were called on stage, they all gallantly upped their game and rose to the challenge. Of course, first we need a yardstick to guide us in the final selection of the nominees – amongst them the three critical criteria of confidence, poise and dressed to the graduation theme.

    From twelve nominees in each gender category, it would be the norm to then filter the finalists based on their performance in both the Question & Answer (Q&A) segment and talent segment.

    I love the Q&A segment the best as it really makes or breaks a nominee. 

    And the moment we are all waiting for – the crowning of our Ms and Mr Crestian title holder winners – complete with pageant sashes, shopping vouchers and glittering tiara (for the lady).



    #2: Screen The Montage Videos

    There’s nothing more effective than having a quick blast back to the past with the screening of montage videos from all the classes. 

    Each class is unique. Whether you are from the Express or Normal stream, each class is unique because it comprises unique individuals who have gone through both thick and thin over the last 4 or 5 years together.

    Just looking at the moments in the video montage brings back memories – both of the classroom and outside of it. The pranks you used to play, the candid moments, the camaraderie forged at adventure camps or canoeing expeditions. We have seen them all. We have been through them all. Most importantly, we have grown through them all. 

    This is a time of reminiscence as each memory is precious and deserves a place in our mental faculty.

    If time permits, have one video from the teachers as well containing their well wishes for their students for a bright future ahead.


    #3: Be Generous With The Lucky Draw Prizes

    Yes, we all harbor secret hopes to win the grand prize. Yet, honestly, if we win a prize (any prize that is), it’s already considered good enough. 

    Be generous with the lucky draw prizes so you increase the odds of winning one! And curate them as much as possible to suit the lifestyle needs of the youths. In my case, I went for IT gadgets, shopping vouchers and essential peripherals. For the record, in total, I gave out 68 prizes in all 

    I even included a door gift for every attendee – one that fitted nicely with the event theme.



    #4: Serve Only Gourmet Food 

    This is the culmination of it all – whether it is 4 or 5 secondary school years…So please serve only gourmet food. Who needs hawker or street food when it is so readily available? And no buffets either.

    In such an important setting, my advice is to have nothing less than a four-course sit-down fine dining meal. Bring in the appetizers, entrée and dessert. 

    With a fine-dining meal, participants can practise their dining etiquette skills, converse with ease around the tables and soak in the grand ambience of it all.


    #5: Involve The People

    This is the most important must-have ingredient to make the graduation party a success. 

    The people.

    People make events successful and memorable. 

    When they come on time, you know the event is off on a winning note.

    When they partake in fringe activities like photographs at the photobooth and balloon arch; cocktails and finger foods, you know your event planning team has thought through them all.

    When they are dressed according to the theme – with the guys looking dapper in their suits and the ladies looking resplendent in their evening gowns, you know everyone is just waiting with eager anticipation for the graduation event to start and have a great time. 

    If I were a teacher, I would pause and ask myself: is this the same girl or boy I taught back in class? Gosh…they look so different today…So matured, so dignified and so ready to take on the world.


    So there you have it – my 5 must-have essentials for a successful graduation party! Most importantly, thanks for the memories as they will last a life-time =)