Food for Thought 

4th day of 2018. Still at rock bottom. Yesterday night I caught a fever and gastric pain so I took MC for today. Not sure if I have been eating too much good food or the weather or the stress. Feeling much better already so I hope I can go for dragonboat this Sat.

Yesterday a customer wrote in to feedback that the staff did not serve him with utensils along with his order; the staff also did not direct him where to take the cutlery, and he was quite annoyed that there were no bigger sized black spoons availabile at the outlet which made it difficult for him to eat his noodles. At that time when I saw the message, I was at eating ramen out of a flimsy plastic spoon and wooden chopsticks, because that was only what the shop had. 

At first I thought to myself “why on earth are people kicking such a big fuss over utensils? Come on man, I ate my lunch with disposable cutlery and I am not even complaining!”

I could have just dismissed his feedback, but there was one sentence in his lengthy message that struck me – something along the lines of how greendot failed to live up to our core values care, love and hope, through a seemingly innocent “mistake”. 

Well yeah he did make a valid point there. Why do customers keep coming back to greendot, apart from the food? What is it in our mission and beliefs that made greendot stand out from other F&B businesses? There was one phrase which the boss often shared with us “小细节用心,成就每一口幸福”. Not only paying attention to detail lies in the food preparation, but also being mindful to customers’ needs and making them feel like home. Which includes saving them the extra trip to take cultery when they are already seated down comfortably. 

After replying to the customer, I shared the feedback with the supervisors and then went up to the ORP outlet for a meeting. While waiting for the vendor to reach I went to catch up with one of the aunties. We did talk quite a bit like what’s going on in office and some future projects. In the midst of our conversation she mentioned something about how we should give new staff some time to prove themselves even though they still make mistakes at times. Afterall being new, they may not have grasped what greendot meant to everyone else. Truth be told I found it weird why she brought up this topic, since ORP seldom had new staff coming in. 

Anyway after the meeting, the supervisor of the outlet which kena complained apologised for the mistake, saying that the staff on duty is new and have forgotten the details, and that he will keep a closer eye on them to prevemt such incidents from happening again. 

Life’s so amazing isn’t it? When you are caught perplexed over a problem, the words of wisdom to help you get around situation is always somewhere around you, just that you have to look for it. 

But I was glad that this problem happened. In the pursuit of chasing for business, or just merely doing what you have been tasked to do, don’t neglect or underestimate the small things. Simple actions done out of care, love and hope can occupy the biggest space in someone else’s hearts. Every staff, regardless old or new (in terms of how long they have joined the family), has the power to touch a customer and make his/her day. 

Alright time to sleep (again!)

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10 Highlights of 2017

“Start the year at rock bottom so that the only way for you is up”

Hell yeah I am starting my 2018 at rock bottom way earlier than you fams. Despite exercising 3-4 times a week, being a flexitarian and cutting down on junk food, my immune system failed me. Fell sick on the last working day of 2017 and took MC for the day. But no worry fams I am fine. 

I haven’t been updating my blog much this year so here’s a summary of the major milestones this year. 2017 has been tough but kind to me. Looking back, it was a year of growth and being thankful with what life has put me through so far. It was a great year! Anyway here are the top 10 moments let’s go! 

 1. Highlighted my hair.

Hahaha so punny! But you only live once so why not go for a wild color? I didn’t want to bleach my hair because I am afraid of burning my scalp so I chose to go for underlights. But the red color washes off easily and so there was a period of time where I went around with rose-brown-gold colored hair. The most inconvenient part was having to spray my hair black whenever I had to attend army events. 


Shit colored hair 



2. Designed some actual shit

With just a WSQ cert on basic illustration from First Media Academy, I just used whatever skill I had learnt and designed all sorts of stuff for the company, ranging from posters to lightboxes to menu boards to menus to namecards to the company shirt to the staff uniform to delivery vehicle yadda yadda. It was not only for 1 brand, but 3. 

It wasn’t easy. Designing was really time-consuming when there was only myself in the department. At times I get told that the design is “missing something” but I have no idea what is missing because I can’t read minds. At times I felt that the end product looked stale but I had no idea how to inject any other refreshing creative elements. It was frustrating and there were many hair-pulling moments but when I see the artwork being printed out and installed, it was worth it. 

Some of my work may look amateurish in the eyes of other design professionals. But bear in mind that we were at different starting points.

One of my very first designs – A touchpoint in the new outlet. The company started asking me to design side menus and posters in late 2016 but I have never done such a “big” project before.


Conceptualised the logo for the company’s budding hawkerpreneurs.


Pillar wrap…which was pasted wrongly by the printer. Ffs.

3. Work itself

2017 marked exactly 1 year of working in the HQ. Nearly everyday was a happening day – putting out fire, going out to see new concepts, dropping by outlets to brief them on promotions, conducting supervisor briefings, tasting food, executing events, going to & fro with printing suppliers, engaging in highly-opionated discussions, learning from one another, falling down & making mistakes… the list goes on. Even when I am on leave or MC or deployment, staff were calling me to deal with problems like fixing the outlet TV. I could have written 10 more posts on work-related things but life is not about work.

There were also times where I had to learn how to handle issues that were not within my area of responsibility. Like telling the TV signage supplier where to install the wiring in the new outlet and solving the wifi connectivity. There was also once where the outlet short-circuited and the staff thought it was the POS problem and called me to handle. It doesn’t hurt to learn more. 

I spent a lot of time and energy on work, and no matter how tiring or depressing it got sometimes, yes it was a fulfilling year. 

Our favourite aunties 


Did a home refurbishment for a resident’s unit with Hougang Northeast CDC. We sponsored lunch for the participants and painted the resident’s house. I skipped dragonboat for this! 

Other than that we also cooked & packed meals at Willing Hearts and cleaned up homes at Redhill area for our bi-annual day of giving. Anyway this home refurbishment was a good time for me to do some good, because all the while I was the photographer during the company’s charity events.


Did a Christmas mailbox campaign called Send a Little Gratitude across all the outlets. Because sending xmas greetings via whatsapp is getting too mainstream, we decided to go back to the good ol’ classic way of handwriting xmas cards. If you value someone in your life, you will definitely spend more time penning down your message. Once written from the heart, there is no backspace. 


4. Love-Hate relationship…with poké bowl!

Poké Bowl (no not pokemon or poking people) was a food trend this year. For those who don’t know, it’s a meal originated from Hawaii, incorporating raw fish with all sorts of ingredients like avocado, pineapples etc marinated in all sorts of seasonings. The base of the bowl includes sushi rice/ brown rice or salad base (Side note: I really dont understand why there are people on earth who are so afraid of carbs). Poké bowls are often marketed as healthy and balanced, thus a hit among health-conscious eaters.

I have tried the one at Aloha Poke and was totally blown away by it. The salomon was bombz!

Long story short, the company decided to launch a vegetarian salmon version poké bowl. I wasn’t involved in the R&D part but more of as a guenia pig tasting the dish. The whole process took longer than expected and I was officially sick of the product by the time it launched. 

All the poké bowl versions from the very first to the final. Like pokémon evolving like that. Haha! 


Did I also mention that when the final product was out, we also had to do the styling for the photoshoot and promotional video? During media tasting, we also prepared 20 over poké bowls for the attendees. That’s it man, I am not going to eat another poké bowl for the whole of 2018. 

5. Mentored interns at work

Mentored 2 design interns so far. But before that I also had to interview the candidates. Usually it’s the interviewee who should be nervous, but it was also nerve-wrecking on my end! 

Having being used to the entire department to myself, it was not easy delegating work and entrusting others to do what you have been doing. You may think “Wah good for you, you finally have someone to help you” but I don’t want to be seen as if I am pushing work to others. Since fate wants you to cross paths with certain people, there are certain traits of the person you have to learn from them, and certain traits they have to learn from you. So why not take this opportunity to let go and re-orientate your job scope to a different direction? If you find yourself stuck doing the same thing after 6 months, something isn’t going right. 

Mentoring people is like a totally brand new skill set of its own. When someone is better than you in what you have been doing, there’s no need to feel insecure or afraid. Instead you have to think of how to make them best contribute to the company and whatever project you are undertaking. Afterall you can’t be good in everything. Fortunately my interns are both very nice and have a mature understanding towards what they are tasked to do.

6. Watched a live soccer match 

Alright, that’s enough of work! No.6 on my list is actually a throwback to International Champions Cup in July which was Bayern vs Chelsea. Okay I wasn’t as hardcore as other fans who waited at the hotel to take photos of the players, but I am content with it. 

My next goal in life is to watch a match at Stamford Bridge. Bonus points if I can find N’golo Kante to take a wefie. 


7. Took up aikido

After 1 year of consideration and procrastination, I finally signed up for aikido class. To do a parallel comparison, It’s like learning ballet steps in French terms but now they are in Japanese lol. Some of the moves are damn hard to grasp and my muscle memory is not getting it at times. Also had to learn how to break fall properly if not you might end up breaking your arm. Fortunately the sensei is really nice and kept using real-life scenarios to describe the rationale of the moves if not it won’t have made any sense to me. 

Aikido is also on the defensive side and the sensei advised against using it on people unless you are attacked, although I might use it on guys who try to hold my hand and I happen to dislike that guy.

Not thinking far ahead of how much I want to achieve in Aikido (cos people go for exams and all and I hate exams). One move at a time. 

8. Dragonboat

It’s has also been a year since I started dragonboat! I have to be honest that it was a pain in the ass getting up early on Saturday morning. But as a team, not only the technique needs to be there, but also the chemistry and the commitment to come down every session to polish up whatever that is lacking. 

Did 3 races for the year – army ragetta, dragon divas and kdf. Army ragetta was the big one. And what the hell man, it rained like mad the whole morning. Dragon divas was a charity race to help the breast cancer foundation raise funds, and each team had to do up a drags performance. But the highlight was the free flow beer and party afterwards. The other competing teams were ang moh and pinoy professionals so that’s kinda expected. Kdf is another charity race but there was a good mix of professionals and community/club based teams. Got asked to be the drummer which was quite scary at first because I can’t even sit down properly and I was trying not to fall off! 

Full speed ahead!

9. Safvc deployment 

The hardest thing while being on deployment is to have something go wrong at the workplace and my colleagues desperately trying to reach me, but on my end I can’t pick up the phone if not it would look damn unprofessional. 

Anyway it was also a good year of helping out for army related events like planning and helping out for AOH, ndp and also going back to tekong 1 year later to do event photography of the new SVs doing their basic training. Met all sorts of people each time so it’s a really good way to brush up on my social skills. 

10. Went for blind dates…and failed

Yes I took a gamble this year and decided to let cupid decide my fate. Signed a contract with this matchmaking agency which allows me to go on unlimited dates for 6 months. Well… some guys were okay, some were trash, some shared similar interests but didn’t seem to go far, some just had no chemistry, some just didn’t text back after the date. I presume they are dead. 

The law of average didn’t work out this time and cupid is being a bastard to me as usual. But at least I got my dinner covered for many times because the guys paid. Never say no to free food! 

Okay that’s all for 2017. 2018 just started off with a heavy downpour but it is a good time to sleep. Here’s to a more meaningful year and full steam ahead! 

Adios Smoothie House!

Had been so busy preparing for Christmas and this post is MONTHS overdue!

Smoothie House Singapore closed its doors after 20 October. Gone were the iconic mango snowflake ice, the jiggly but slippery panna cotta and the sibei sweet drinks. Really thankful for all customers from all walks of life who filled the place with laughter, warmth and memories.

For me I didn’t see through the birth of bringing in Smoothie House to Singapore, but my several months stint there (about 6 months thereabout across 3 outlets) was an integral part of my current career journey. Witnessed all sorts of things work wise, ranging from drama, menu changes, product launches, coping with crowds, helping to plan their LSM (and knowing what works and what doesnt) and the inevitable – the eventual and gradual dip in sales.

Never expected myself to be cutting fruits, wiping fridges, making hand-shaken tea and making friends with the big yellow giant ice machine, while most of my peers are either sitting comfortably in offices or doing their masters/at NIE. My mum hated it especially when I worked night shift (in fact most of my time there) so I spent an awful lot of time convincing her that it wont be permanent.

My first birthday since I officially enetered the workforce.

Napoleon pie. For someone with poor cooking/kitchen skills, preparing the ingredients for this is HELL! It’s easy to assemble and serve, but the piping cream has to be of the right consistency. Those creams with milk and eggs were damn hard to prepare cos they get cooked easily and you are pretty much toast once you miss that golden moment. 

Our one and only Smoothie House family Xmas party. I remembered we played a relay game where in pairs, we had to suspend a drink can by the tab using uncooked spaghetti, we had to hold each end of the spaghetti with our mouths and walk a certain distance. We created such a din that passer-bys were videoing us. 

On the personal side, my Smoothie House experience also intertwined and co-incided with many life events I experienced. The most memorable would be my SAFVC basic training. There were some Friday nights where we were required to book-in because next morning would be something intensive like live-firing or field camp. Since I was on schedule on Fri, I lugged my no.4 to work, changed at the workplace and reported to camp directly. Actually my colleague had a few shots of me wearing my uniform in the outlet but it’s kinda inappropriate to post them here.

The worst feeling was the day after Basic Training. I used to do full shift from 12pm – 11pm on Sundays – as attendant. Imagine spending your Saturday from 7.30am to 10pm doing physical training, weapon handling/firing etc, and then you have to stand for about 11 hours the next day greeting customers, introducing the menu to them, clearing tables and cleaning up the outlet when the day ends. All of that with a smile on your face.  It was seriously physically and mentally exhausting and I got cranky at times because of the lack of rest.

Up till now I still couldn’t believe how I got through that tough period. But every time when I see customers walk out of the outlet with smiles, they reminded me of my existence here – to create an opportunity for people to cherish their loved ones over a bowl of dessert. As what Mother Theresa once said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” When you spend time appreciating and showing gratitude to what your loved ones have done for you, this energy of joy and kindness will radiate to the wider community. That’s the power of one simple bowl of dessert.

Anyway we went down to Smoothie House for the last time before it closes for good! (My another colleague and her daughter came along, but she already left the company weeks ago. Which goes to show how long it took to complete this post lol). Many menu items were not available because the outlet was clearing stock, which kinda made customers irritated because they couldn’t get the desserts they wanted. 

Even posing with the dessert model. One of the very common questions customers asked is whether the actual dessert is the same size as the model. No way fam! Imagine the amount of wasted ice if the actual dessert were to be this big. 

But anyway 我这种形象迟早嫁不出去。

And now we go out. 

This corner was supposed to be a backdrop of an instagrammable spot but somehow it wasn’t used to its full potential. 

And then there’s this huge branding touchpoint behind the outlet. I don’t know how much it cost to print and install but it must have been a bomb.

Jumpshot fail 

Those years of ballet paid off lol 

To many customers, they may think that Smoothie House may just be another dessert place, be it to rest their legs/ wait for time to pass/ a convenient place for an after meal dessert fix – especially since other Smoothie House outlets were within the same premises as Greendot. But to us, Smoothie House is a place to learn, to fall, to grow and to make fond memories. It’s more than just dessert.

Thank you for coming into my life. 

Saw this video posted on RAD’s facebook.

Ahhh the memories.

I havent been dancing that frequently ever since I finished graded exams. Life happened so I didnt find another school to go further. Attending open class now and then but I kinda miss the part of having a more structured lesson and monitoring your own progress every week. 

Dragon boat regatta in about 2 weeks time. Honestly I am not confident of surviving through the distance without perfecting every stroke. It’s only 500m, it’s short, but it’s under race conditions. Sometimes I am like eyezill from 442oons. 

HAHAHA I still love to take the piss on Arsenal fans esp this season

Okay back to rushing my final assignment for graphic design course. Today morning my mum suggested taking on a proper degree in design/visual communication rather than a workplace certificate. I dont know about it though. I rather spend time working and getting experience than to go back and be a student again. I dont like to lose track of reality. 

Nope I am not a guy

A few weeks back the boss experimented a new dish for us to try. It was pumpkin with mayo yogurt sauce (and something else that made the dish sibei sour) 

Female Colleagues: Eh not bad leh!…. Texture is like potato but is not potato…Most women would prefer pumpkin leh. Potato got a lot of carbs.

Me trying to overcome the disbelief: Huh i seldom eat pumpkin leh. I prefer potato.

Female Colleagues: 哎呀你根本就是男生嘛!!! (You are a guy anyway!)

It’s the 26472846 time that my gender orientation is put into contestation. Okay I like male-dominated interests like watching soccer, dragon boating and army life. My next life goal after my graphic design course ends is to pick up krav maga. I prefer wearing shorts than skirts. I find it easier to talk to guys than girls. 

But on the other side of the spectrum…I wear makeup. I like girly things like floral patterns and buying accessories at Bugis Street. Yes I still do girly things like switching on my fan-girl mode when my favourite star appears on tv. 

Nope I am not a guy. Period.

Dilly Ding Dilly Gone 

Kinda shocked that Leicester City fired their manager due to the club’s abysmal performance this season. From champions of the premier league to 17th position within a span of 9 months. The league is madness.

Many soccer fans have been slamming the club for sacking the man who propelled them from an unknown position to playing in the champions league. Everyone’s favourite club last season – a club’s symbolising fairy tales and miracles, is now everyone’s hated club- a snake that bit the hand that fed them.

Looking at the bigger picture, most managers who helped the club win the league also ended up sacked. 

Moral of story: Dont become a victim of your own success. The tides will change.

Jan 2017

Haven’t updated for ages. January was a happening and hectic month for me, both in terms of work and personal. Can’t believe that tomorrow will be CNY eve already (Okay CNY this year was early). Everything is happening so fast…

Work

In all honesty I had difficulties adjusting from the “8 hours outlet” to “8 hours (sometimes OT) office” lifestyle. I used to work night shift and end the day at 11pm, and so my biological clock would be still asleep at 9am. Seriously it was tough for me to wake up early in the morning because I have been acclimatized into an “afternoon person” but you just gotta have to get up. (I know during Basic Training we had to book in at 6.30am but that’s another story)

We finally opened our 7th outlet on 11th Jan. Had been assigned to design the outlet’s touchpoints ranging from the lightbox to overhead menu board to the table stand to the name card yadda yadda. I have never designed anything that major before and it took me a bloody long time to come up with ideas and figure out how Illustrator works. Trying to understand the printer language in graphic design was like communicating to aliens. To start off I didn’t even know that I have to convert the file into CMYK instead of RGB when sending the file for print.

The whole process of outlet opening was a tight deadline coupled with tempers flaring, emotions erupting, patience running etc. But it also taught me a lot of things related to my personal growth like keeping my confidence afloat even though my 面子 is gone.

Enough said, here are some shots of the outlet. As of now I still have one more major obstacle to go – to design a menu for the lightbox located outside the outlet because the opening promotion has ended. Currently I am running dry of ideas because I didn’t have enough input for my constant output.

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Had to rush out the collateral for CNY too. During uni days it was all about writing essays to argue your ideas. Now it’s about using images to communicate our values to customers. But to see your work being printed out, distributed and seen by public, it felt more satisfying as compared to printing chunks of text which will only be read by the prof. I am not sure how impactful the posters and all can persuade and touch (触动) a customer, but as long as a passer-by can stop and take a look, that’s all that I ask for.

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And… I finally got my first name card. Still a long way to go, but I believe that I have already came far from where I first began. During the first week of work I couldn’t count money for shit. I got so stressed up and hated myself when the sales didn’t tally and there was a shortage incurred. Fast forward, I am thankful for everything that has happened along the way, regardless good or unpleasant.

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Personal

Started dragonboat with the safvc after my qualification training ended. Never imagined myself getting into this sport because I dislike the outdoors but nothing ventured nothing gained. I need the physical activity anyway because of all the OT and sedentary office lifestyle so I had to shake up my physiology a bit and soak up some sun.

Also started attending Graphic Design & Adobe Illustrator course by First Media Design School on Tue and Thur nights because of the inefficient way I had been using Illustrator. So far it’s still on the theory part like branding, creative brief etc. A little different from what I expected because I was sort of expecting design theory/what color to best use for what etc but it never hurts to learn more.

Went back for open classes at sdt last week for the first time since forever. I haven’t been doing ballet classes for more than half a year! I swear I was half dead not even at the halfway mark of the lesson, but it was great to be dancing again. Ballet is just one of those things that is impossible for me to eradicate out of my life even though I will never be a professional.

Food 

Having been turning into a part-time vegetarian more often because I would also settle my dinner at the outlet before going for class. The Paya Lebar outlet sells porridge and the Bai Ye tofu is bombz. I can totally feast on that everyday.

Oh and ever since my design teacher showed us an ex-student’s project of a re-designed Vodka Mudshake’s label, I bought 1 carton home just to try (they come in a set of 4). It’s only 4% abv (boooo) but my mum should be proud that I am not drinking beer.

Relationship 

What’s that?