Interviewed Live On National TV

I can’t believe this happened but it did.

I was on BERNAMA TV, our national TV station last Friday for a live interview by Gerard Ratnam, the executive producer of a news programme called The Nation.

I almost didn’t make it because two days before, I was having a terrible flu and headache and body ache. I spent the two days in bed, sniffling and sneezing and absolutely weakened by the flu. I thought to myself, “Of all days to be ill and out of sorts.” I am not the type to visit the doctor and I have always chosen to let my body heal itself. When one is sick, it’s a signal that the body needs rest. But besides rest, the body needs prana or qi to power up the organs.

Thankfully I did get well enough to board a bus from Penang and head to Wisma Bernama for my Friday afternoon interview!

This is why if you know me, you know I sounded different in this interview – I had a nasal-like voice in the interview. I arrived in KL about 1.15pm (the Aeroline bus drops passengers in front of the Corus Hotel) and I waited 20 minutes for a Grab. The Grab ferried me to Wisma Bernama in less than 10 minutes and I reached Wisma Bernama about 2pm. It was an hour before my interview.

Syafika, the assistant producer, welcomed me and took me to the makeup artist room to do a quick and simple makeup. I wished I did my makeup to be honest. While I appreciated the help, the look wasn’t exactly flattering. If I get to Wisma Bernama for another interview, I will do my own makeup.

She next brought me downstairs to the cafe, Richiamo, for a cup of tea while she showed me the interview questions. She had messaged me the questions that morning and I had perused them while on the bus. They sounded OK and nothing that I couldn’t handle. After all, I was going to talk about my podcast and my guests, a topic that I was deeply familiar with!

We sat and chatted for a while and then Gerard, my programme host and interviewer, joined us. Again we ran through the questions and I had a feeling that 30 minutes was not enough.

Interestingly, this opportunity to be on TV came in a way that I had not expected.

I met Gerard when he came to Penang and spoke at a media workshop. He spoke about Radio 4 and the fabulous deejays back then, one of which was Alan Zechariah. I loved listening to Alan Zechariah when I was a teenager. And not surprisingly, I was the only one in the entire room of 50 people who knew who Alan was.

We chatted a little after the workshop but that was it. I thought nothing of it because I do meet quite a number of people at events and conferences and sometimes I get a trifle embarrassed if I forget someone’s name as he or she comes up to me and exclaims, “Hi Krista! Remember me?”

Yet it was from that one encounter that Gerard had remembered me. He seemed to like the work that I do that he kept insisting he needed to find me a slot in his programme and there I was on 24 May 2024! How serendipitous life can be sometimes. Maybe there was something in my podcast that he enjoyed.

Or maybe he just wanted something unusual and the combination of women entrepreneurs, podcasting and Asia felt like the right topic to present. It helps that Malaysia will become the chair of ASEAN next year so ASEAN news is going to be a hot topic.

Anyway, I am certainly grateful that I was on The Nation programme because not everyone has a chance to be on national TV. It gives Womenpreneur Asia a lot of street cred to be featured and I can safely say that I could be the first independent podcaster to be featured in a live TV programme!

(And any publicity is good publicity for our business and podcast so I think it was truly worth it to make the trip to KL for this interview, don’t you think? After all, we help our clients get visible, credible and profitable and I always walk my talk first. I don’t just spout theory; I do it and I show our clients how we do it.)

The studio was a green room – lime green walls – with two studio technicians and two teleprompters. I had a mic clipped to my blazer and its wire taped in the inside of my blazer. And then we were rolling and live!

I had asked Gerard if I should be looking at the camera or looking at him. He said just look at him. I wanted to ask him questions just as badly but I didn’t manage to. Maybe the next round! Anyway, if you watch the interview below, you would think how slowly the time passes but when I was in the hot seat literally being asked questions, I was scrambling for time! In no time, 30 minutes flew by.

The visuals and soundless video clips you see that were part of my interview session were supplied by me. I gave Syafika the images of my guests and my Youtube channel and she extracted 2 clips to be used when I was speaking. This created more visual interest than just having two talking heads on the screen.

And in 30 minutes, the interview was over! I was quite pleased with the overall interview although it still makes me a little cringey to see myself on TV. It happens to the best of us. I am just not used to seeing myself on the big screen, so to speak.

What I learned is that to be on TV and live, I have to be quick on my feet and think as I speak. Words rolled like marbles one after another out of my mouth. I know my work well so I could elaborate and explain although I wished I had more time to elaborate. My best friend said I was an animated speaker. I guess I am with my facial expression and hand gestures.

Please subscribe to the podcast on Spotify and Youtube. It would really make my day!

If you missed the programme, here it is and you can watch it as many times as you want.

100 Episodes of Womenpreneur Asia

I had a nice surprise today when Mr Ong of Buletin Mutiara texted me and said the feature they did on me was already published on their website.

It was a really comprehensive write-up, excellently expressed. As a writer and communicator myself, I am particularly appreciative of well-written articles.

The article summed up what I relayed to Mr Ong and Joanne who sat me down last week for two hours at Winterwarmers. I had fun retelling my story because every time I do so, I reflect on what I did well and what I should do better. It’s a therapeutic process with a lot of advantages. When you are working on your project, you never really lift your head up and look back at how far you’ve come or the milestones you’ve passed.

But in an interview, the reflection, thoughts and ideas spring forth.

And that’s what I truly enjoy the most. The process of reflecting is as crucial as the outcome and results. And many a time, the results are just a by-product.

I have always been someone who would do something just for the heck of it. Try it once. See if I like it. If I do, I continue doing it. If I don’t, it’s OK, I tried and I learned.

So the podcast was an experiment on many fronts.

I love a good challenge. I love learning and the process of learning. I also wanted to be the guinea pig for our clients. After all, how could I talk about growing visibility, credibility and authority if I didn’t prove it could be done first? We’ve done it with websites (for our clients and ourselves) and so this was a full-on fun challenge.

One thing that I can say for my podcast, having my website dedicated to the podcast and only the podcast, helped establish credibility like no other. And this is what Nic and I advise our clients all the time. You must have a website because it gives you control but it also gives you immense credibility!

I remember talking to a Canadian woman who was with a Canadian foundation. She was in Penang with her colleagues – a discovery trip to find out more about women’s entrepreneurship and she said that she found my website when she googled the keyword! She had seen and heard my podcast before she even met me!

But that aside, what I wanted to convey is this: I never had an idea of getting to 100 episodes. I just wanted to start because I wanted to connect with Asian women entrepreneurs in Asia and feature the stories they’ve never quite told anyone.

Something deep and resonant.

Something particularly poignant.

Something that binds us to our humanity.

Something that says, hey, we’re all the same.

I wanted to demystify female entrepreneurship and I wanted to be the platform for these (sometimes) unknown women to share openly and without fear. Many of my guests have done so and for their honesty, I am truly indebted.

In part, I have persistently created episode after episode because I have a mission.

I inspired a Vietnamese friend to start her podcast. Three cheers for that.

I brought guests together, guests across the Asian region who would have never met.

I am often inspired by the ideas, intelligence and strategies of my guests – and that feeds into curiosity and learning which is a virtuous cycle.

And I am always me – real, unabashed, open – on the podcast. I don’t pretend to be what I am not. I am not trying to be someone else. I am me with all my flaws and finesse.

And once guests know that I don’t have any ulterior motive, that I am NOT doing this for commercial purposes, that I don’t ask for a fee to feature them although it costs me to pay for the podcast server, website etc., it’s refreshing because in a sea of commercial interests, not having ANY is refreshing.

(And that is why Redbox Studio, my company, is the sponsor for every episode. Because it is Redbox Studio’s money that pays for the software that I use to record the episodes, the software that I use to transcribe and edit my audio, the server fees that power the server that hosts my episodes, the domain fees, website hosting, etc. Yes, and that’s not even my time cost!)

So why am I doing this?

Why spend all that money?

Too many people are shortsighted and only focus on the short-term returns. If you can play the long game and focus on a bigger idea, a bigger mission, a bigger why (yes, very Simon Sinek), you will never be short of opportunities.

I have guests sharing with me that I should do something with the diverse network that I have. They’re very sweet because they egg me to make money off the podcast – creating masterminds, workshops, retreats, etc. And because of all the nudging, I am producing an ebook on podcasting thanks to friends who kept asking me how to start their own!

I am also collaborating with guests who have become firm friends on some regional projects. And I’ve been asked to speak and get involved in other initiatives as well.

I believe if I have something good to offer the world, the opportunities and abundance are endless.

Just a few days ago, I was having tea with a new friend. She is half my age. She wanted to ask me to coach her about getting ahead in her career and how to play into all the multiple passions and interests that she has. She was intensely curious and highly ambitious. I love women like this. They remind me of me. LOL.

“Bring a 3D personality to your work,” I said.

Give yourself permission to be as well-rounded as an individual as you can be and demonstrate your abilities at work and play with a common theme. I play in multiple sandboxes but they share a common theme – entrepreneurship, strategy, marketing and communications.

I also know what I want and what I am great at. I want to create a platform and a brand in Womenpreneur Asia. I want to be a community builder and connector.

Most of all I know I have the skills to make this happen. Of course, this didn’t happen overnight.

That’s why explorations, experimentation, volunteering, veering off the standard path, meeting all kinds of people of all ages and backgrounds, putting oneself out there, being proactive and enthusiastic, never letting selfishness get in the way of doing a much bigger thing – all these help.

Find people of your age, get mentors older than you, younger than you. Get mentors from different fields. Sometimes the mentors may not even know they’re mentoring you. Just be incredibly helpful without a need to get anything in return.

So here’s a side story about the journalist Mr Ong. He had interviewed me a few years ago and at the end of that interview, I said something that he felt was unusual. Because of that, he remembered me and what I said.

“Most people – when they get featured in the media – they just want to keep the limelight for themselves. But you were different. You told me that if I ever needed interesting people to interview, you would be happy to introduce them to me,” he remarked.

I had forgotten I said that.

But I meant every word I said. He said through my network, he had interviewed a couple of women in business and featured their stories too.

The rising tide lifts all boats. And abundance isn’t like cookies. No one needs to bake them. They don’t grow on trees either.

Abundance is a mindset. The more you give, the more you will receive. And always remember who helped you get to where you are today. Be grateful, say thank you often and the world of abundance opens up!

I Wouldn’t Have Become A Podcaster If Not For This Programme

It’s a little surreal as I type this but since February 2nd, I have recorded 100 episodes of my podcast.

participants of the changing faces 2019 programme offered by the east west center hawaii

I started the podcast in 2020 – yep, during the pandemic lockdown but the idea came to me much earlier. In fact, it came to me in 2019, a couple of weeks before I landed in Oahu, Hawaii for a life-changing programme. A programme that I still hold dear in my heart because it gave me the guts to embark on a project that sounded as audacious if not crazy.

I armed myself with my pitch deck and took a terribly long flight (with a transit in Narita Airport) to Oahu, Hawaii. Until then, I had no idea that the pitch deck would become a reality. I was just thinking, “Oh how nice if I could start a podcast!”

I don’t want to repeat myself – you can hear that story in this episode which is also Episode 100 of my Womenpreneur Asia where Padmaja Vaswani, my friend in Mumbai, interviewed me about my podcasting process including how it began.

The Changing Faces Women’s Leadership programme is back again this year and it is open for any woman in the US or Asia or Pacific to apply. The deadline is 8 March 2024.

Each cohort has about 16 to 18 spots (although funding is for 6 to 8 women). If you get in, you receive a fully funded scholarship that is worth US$3,250.

I was lucky and grateful to have received a full scholarship to attend this programme for 2 weeks. All other expenses were on my own such as the US visa, insurance, baggage fees and air tickets.

Some years ago, friends asked me about increasing their chances of getting into this programme.

At the top of their minds was this: what are the programme folks looking for in selecting programme applicants? And of course, the next question, how did I succeed in getting into the programme?

Here’s the answer that I have uncovered.

Your eclectic interests, passions, community projects, body of work. Something unusual, unique, titillating and provocative.

Something in your background that spells value and contribution.

Something in your work that shows you are a leader.

Something that they can pair you up with another participant. (They usually find matching pairs of participants from different countries so that both can share and exchange experiences.)

Something in your work or pitch that they can find you a mentor for (they paired me with a doctor who is also a Hawaii radio host, Dr Kathleen Kozak for an evening together where I watched her record her radio show at the Hawaii Public Radio studio).

Something in your project that would be impactful to your community.

I deduced all these because I was curious how I was selected among the hundreds of applicants from Malaysia.

I asked my programme coordinator, Liz, who remarked quite matter-of-fact that the selection panel saw something attractive in my book adoption centre project that another participant from Fiji could learn from. (My Fijian friend was leading a book community project – a literacy project for children – at that time and I managed to share some ideas and strategies with her during our two weeks in Hawaii.)

That really surprised me.

That also helped me unlock a little of what the selection panel was looking for.

Complementary peers from different countries to help speed up the exchange of ideas that are already working!

But what happens if you don’t make it into the programme?

Does it mean your work isn’t useful or exciting?

Actually, no.

Again, it seems that if the selection panel cannot find a complementary peer or a Hawaiian mentor for the participant, they probably wouldn’t be able to help the participant.

Does it mean you can’t apply again the following year? You are encouraged to apply because circumstances evolve and you might find yourself accepted.

So on that note, if you would like a life-changing experience and visit Hawaii even if it’s for a leadership programme, check out the programme and apply if you meet the criteria. Even if you don’t, share this with friends. Or share my post with friends. 😉

Check it out here:

The closing date for the programme application is 8 March 2024.

Sometimes women need a kick in the butt to get going because we can offer up many excuses why we cannot leave our business, why this is not the right time for us, who would take care of the family and what would we even pitch as a project and head off for 2 weeks to the sparkling islands of Hawaii.

But you can. You have to want to do this badly though.

You have to believe in yourself when you apply.

Here’s a secret: I didn’t even bring my laptop along for the 2 weeks. My Asia Pacific peers were flabbergasted. Almost everyone brought along their laptops. I didn’t think I would need it and I was right.

We had packed days of lectures starting at 8am till 5pm, site visits on Oahu and to Maui the other island, mentor high school girls, learning visits to local businesses, etc. All I wanted to do at the end of each day was to shower, grab dinner and head to bed. And I just borrowed my Sri Lankan friend’s laptop when I needed to fine-tune my Google Slides.

Curious about all the other stuff? Find out more about what I did there in these posts:

One piece of advice: if you do get into the programme, extend your stay and explore the islands. I have one regret that I didn’t do this and I wished I did. After all, I had travelled so many hours and hopped on and off a few planes so I might have made better use of my time there. Two friends from the programme did just this and I am so envious! (It didn’t help that I had to fly back for a conference in Singapore the week after!)

Questions To Reflect On Your Year…Yes, It’s A Quirky Habit of Mine

I’m really pleased that I’ve just concluded Season 5 of my podcast and I am taking a break this month. December is my time to kick back, chill and rejuvenate myself for the upcoming year.

This year has been eventful on so many fronts but mainly I’ve had a grand time recording, editing and producing episodes. I’ve been talking to quite a number of women in business and interviewing them and sometimes chasing after podcast guests. I’ve had one guest that I didn’t feature because she didn’t meet my deadline (come on, I do my part and you do yours and you can’t even do that? Sorry but I can’t pander to your whims).

This weekend, Nic and I are headed to Gopeng for a short weekend with friends. I consider it a fun time with friends (his, not mine) but a trek in Nature is always welcome. And then my sister and dad will be driving up to Penang for a few days and so the next two weeks of December are basically lots of feasting, not much work or business and certainly licence to laze and graze.

I like taking this month to engage in some mindful reflection and that’s been my habit for many years now.

If I think about it, this discipline has stood me well as I keep benchmarking myself yearly and I am sometimes amazed at how much I have progressed in my thinking.

I encourage you to do so because these days, time does fly so fast. If we blink a bit more, we’d be in 2023. To me, a life unexamined is a life not worth living. Besides my gratitude journal that I attempt to fill daily with 3 things I am grateful for, I look out for other ways to empower me to get better as a human being.

It’s no surprise that I enjoy collecting thoughtful questions that prompt deep thinking. I collect questions to ask my podcast guests, varying questions and figuring out which questions are gems. Yes, I have a Google Doc titled “Great Questions To Ask Myself”. Each time I come by a great question, I file it away like a hamster stuffing pellets in its mouth.

You must be curious now.

I hope you are because I want to share these questions with you.

But before that, I found a website that is equally satisfying (to me at least) where I get to answer questions in a self-coaching method. The best part is that you can be reminded of your answers 3 months, 6 months, 9 months or even 12 months from today.

Reading my past answers shines a light on the way the previous me was processing information or understanding the world. And I get to answer the same questions again and compare my answers.

It’s really about seeing growth in myself over the past few months.

And I feel that I have grown so much in the past year. I’ve been disappointed, felt betrayed and yes even bitter about some incidents and people. I’m no saint. I’ve culled some friends from my life and I’m still removing people from my Contacts list. I’ve decided that there are some people that I would rather not be in contact with because of their selfishness and self-centeredness. I’ve also forgiven them and moved on and praying that they would get the hint and stay away.

You’d be surprised how much your thinking changes or how some principles don’t. I am thankful some parts of me have remained incredibly consistent but I am also surprised to know that some parts of me have re-defined ideas about life. If you’re a ruminative sort, you’d love this website.

My annual review questions help me take stock of my life.

I usually answer them in a Google Doc so that next year I can pull up the document and re-read it. I have a few years’ worth of annual reviews like these. If a company can have annual reviews and strategic planning, you too need to be more conscious of yourself.

I can’t recall who wrote these questions but these are amazing questions to keep asking myself. I’ve modified and combined them, remixed them if you will for my own use. Feel free to use them for your own journalling and reflection. It takes time to answer them all so spread them out over a few days. And if you have a couple of good questions of your own, please let me know too!

I hope you have a wonderful time resetting yourself and getting plenty of fun and rest before 2023 begins.

It’s quite interesting to engage in inner work. It’s the hardest to do but intensely satisfying when I get to the place called Truth.

Truth is painful but it’s there that I start to reset myself. Sometimes I blanket out what’s staring me in the face – denial is more fun – but denial doesn’t help me get better.

  • What have I accomplished in the last 12 months?
  • What was I most proud of? Why?
  • What was I most disappointed about? Why?
  • What 20% of my efforts give me 80% of my results?
  • What lessons have I learned in the last 12 months about myself and others?
  • Did any of the projects or priorities this year lead to improved relationships, partnerships or opportunities?  If yes, how can I do more? If not, why?
  • Was I smart about using my resources this year? If not, what happened? 
  • Who made a positive difference in my life recently? (Time to reconnect with these folks!)
  • Who should I be talking to, if I want to grow myself next year?
  • Who knows the person(s) that I want to know? 
  • Who can I connect with that has accomplished what I want to accomplish?
  • What relationships or partnerships am I looking to start or develop? Why?
  • What relationships or partnerships do I need to let go of? Why?
  • Apart from growth and money, what do I really want out of life?
  • What important issues should I be focusing on that will move the needle?
  • What’s happening around me that I may want to guard against?
  • What’s happening around me that I could take advantage of?
  • What simple pleasures, hobbies or pastimes have I forgotten but need to get back into?For next year, what should I do more?
  • What should I do less of?
  • What should I stop doing completely?
  • What does my 5-year body of work look like?
  • If I am looking at the next 5 years, what priorities make sense for the year ahead?
  • What decision/habit/action would Future Me thank me for?

By the way, a good friend and I are thinking of creating a workshop just for women called The Magic of Thinking Big in March next year.

It’s still in the discussion phase – a cosy group of women, maybe max 20 people – because I think it’s time women shared their secrets and started helping each other overcome some mental barriers. If you want to be notified of this event, email me using the contact form on this blog with the subject line “March”. Let’s see where this takes us.

Until then, have a good holiday season, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Our Book, Step In, Is Finally Published!

Yes, the book that I had been working on has finally seen the light of day. This is a late post as I had drafted it but no thanks to many other things, I forgot to put it up on this blog.

For the longest time, Emi, Jo and I had struggled to complete our women’s stories anthology. Not because the stories were incomplete. They were. Not because we didn’t want to. We did. Somehow we slowed down and while we could blame covid, it didn’t seem fair to the contributors who sent in their stories.

I myself spent so much time interviewing and writing the stories that I was jaded. I couldn’t re-read another line. I couldn’t even catch my own typos or grammar mistakes anymore. I was THAT weary!

Finally, we decided we had had enough of wanting perfectionism and just pushed the ‘baby’ out into the world. We could’ve gone on to tweak more, fine-tune, reread and refine the book but enough was enough.

We chose the title Step In because many years ago, we were inspired by Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. We even emailed Lean In to ask if we could use that term in our title. Lean In is a copyrighted term so we had to figure out what to name our book.

The three of us had many brainstorming sessions and finally, we decided on Step In. Instead of just leaning in, why not step in? Step In as a concept gave us some fun imagery as well – we used our own shoes in the photography (and you will see many of these colourful shoes in the pages of the book too).

Women can step into any role if she chooses to. Whether she wears high heels, flats or trainers, she can be whoever she wants to be.

For the book cover, Emi persuaded her daughter to be our model and they had to wake up before dawn to rush to Wawasan Open University just to get that perfect early morning shot with all the various shoes on the steps.

The behind-the-scenes is just as exciting as the book we published. We also had a separate photography session with another photographer, bringing our own shoes so he could shoot the shoes for the inner pages of our book. That session took half a day.

Then we also had to figure out the women whose stories didn’t quite fit the book. We started out with 30 women that we interviewed mostly (most people cannot write and if they did, they usually wrote a long memoir which isn’t the point of this book).

So if you are ever going to produce an anthology like us, be smart. Don’t solicit for stories unless you know that the person you solicit from is a remarkable writer. Otherwise, factor in the time and get down to interviewing them. It’s easier this way as you know exactly what you want to highlight in the story.

Some women, after we interviewed them, decided they DIDNT want their stories published. They retracted their stories. Yes, it was crazy! Maybe some women didn’t feel that they could be as vulnerable as they wanted to. Or some stories revealed too much. Who knows?

I had 2 women pull out this way. One was a general manager of a multinational corporation. I sat with her for 2 hours, spoke to her, took notes, and wrote the story and after multiple edits with her corporate comms, she didn’t want her story featured.

Another woman wrote her own story and later decided she didn’t want to be featured.

For the first woman, I felt I had wasted my time and energy. This was a pro bono book writing effort. But I told myself, it was OK. I learn, I live and I move on.

It was not easy cutting stories out of the book. But we had to. Some just didn’t fit the theme of the book.

The thing with producing a book is that we could go on forever editing the book. At some point, we decided to just get on with the book layout and design. It was time to put our baby out into the world.

Scary huh?

It was scary because it was an anthology of other people’s life stories and we wanted to get their ‘voices’ right and yet have a strong message that would touch the hearts of our readers.

I didn’t want to bore readers (I’m a big book fan so I know when books bore me and I get so distraught if I don’t complete reading a book that I started. I’m now better at relinquishing books halfway but it was incredibly hard in the early days).

Coming back to the book, we managed to organise the book launch on our own on 5 June and to this, I take my hat off to Emi who really is a workhorse! She rallied her daughters to help and in between producing the launch gimmick (with balloons), checking the printed books and preparing everything for the book sponsors, book contributors and schools!

Check out our video of the book launch. The book launch came together beautifully despite the fact that I was late and the parking attendant refused to let me park along the road. I was late because I had been with Emi all morning at the venue doing the launch set-up and then drove home to shower, get prepped and drive back to the venue.

And yet I managed to calmly and confidently moderate the short session with Dr Vimi Ramasamy, Den Chiew Fung and Dr Florance Sinniah during the launch. The things women do!

If you want the full story, it’s best to read the article that Buletin Mutiara published. Such a lovely article with lots of great photos.

Our book is available as an ebook internationally if you can’t get the hard copy book (since the hard copy is available only in Penang at the moment).

1) Precious Pages Resources, 19b, Codrington Avenue, Penang (order here)
2) Penang Women’s Development Corporation

EBOOK For International Buyers (in US Dollars);jsessionid=3F68BFD4094A4C4D2E31C65213293F91.prodny_store02-atgap09?ean=2940166603135

EBOOK for Malaysian Buyers (in Malaysian Ringgit)

Emi and I believe this book has something that can be turned into a movement. That’s why we want to go to schools and colleges to talk about the book and feature some of the women we’ve interviewed. If you know of any schools or colleges that would like to support this book or the female empowerment agenda, please contact me!

Today I Tried TikTok

These days I try to keep an open mind about the stuff around me. And yes, today I tried TikTok. I downloaded the app some weeks ago, checked out what videos are on the platform and initially I wasn’t impressed as I was shown a lot of Malaysian videos. I didn’t like those videos because they bordered on trashiness. Yes, I said it. Some of the videos are time-wasters.

Then I searched for people I know from other platforms and luckily I found a few familiar faces.

I followed them and then the videos on my page began to improve. TikTok probably learned that I didn’t care too much for tabloid videos. I started following some communicators, entrepreneurs and social media folks so my video feed improved. (I saw one Malaysian girl with 2 million followers on the platform and I didn’t like her videos at all! Was it funny? Supposedly. Was it useful? No. I felt I had wasted my time scrolling through her silly antics.)

I started asking myself why I was resistant to TikTok and I figured out that I don’t want to waste time. I like making the most out of my time as I am involved in my own business a lot. I like being effective.

I don’t like doing challenges or dance videos or lip-syncing. Trying to get attention for attention’s sake is not what I’m after.

But I do like to try and get a feel of how different this platform is compared to Instagram. And I like being my own guinea pig and figuring things out as I go along. So today I uploaded my first TikTok video.

So what tilted the balance for me?

Exploration and discovery. I don’t know this platform at all and going in with a newbie’s eyes can be thrilling. I have no expectations but I think I can give myself this opportunity to learn and see if it fits me and my personality. I want to use this to market my podcast – I already have audiograms so let’s see if this platform helps with the listens and downloads.

And anyway, I can always use my experience to help my clients because a lot of us are in our 30s and 40s and while I may not always understand the millennials today, I can try checking things out for myself and see if I like it.

The Rudeness of Some People

Why do people have to be rude? Do they get some secret thrill in being obnoxious and mean to others?

I was thinking about this over breakfast because a friend working at this week’s WCIT 2022 (the World Congress on Innovation and Technology) that’s happening in my part of the world texted me in a huff today.

She is in events and speaker support and part of her role include keeping panellists and speakers taken care of. One particular speaker, a Malaysian woman no less, was utterly rude and “bitchy-faced” to her.

I know this friend and she has been in the events management space for 18 years and has handled all kinds of people from dignitaries to celebrities in all sizes of conferences. She is no newbie to the job.

And that’s why I felt sorry for my friend. It’s the first day of the three-day conference and I’d be upset too if I got such a meanie in my face early in the morning.

What is it in people who can act all uppity and mean and think it’s OK? Are these people lacking a kindness gene or a be-nice gene? What kick do they get out of acting like a prima donna and having their bad reputation get all over the place? Is it a fun thing to do early in the morning?

I had my fair share of meanies too. Once I was recommended by a university friend to contact her long-time friend, A. My friend said A would be perfect for my podcast. I decided to call A after texting her and we agreed to speak.

On the phone, A sounded OK except that she started acting bitchy about 5 minutes into the call. She said she was already widely featured in the media and in no uncertain terms seemed to say, “So how big is your podcast again?”

I told her my podcast wasn’t big – I had just begun in 2020 and I was looking for exciting women in business to spotlight.

She scoffed in my face.

Yes, this Malaysian woman who thought so highly of herself was utterly rude. When she realized she was rude, she tried to backpedal but I said, it’s OK, we don’t have to do anything together.

When I got off the call, I asked myself, what is it with some women who won’t help other women? I was trying to explain to her about my podcast and its purpose but she didn’t think it was big enough for her.

I never give rude people second chances. I swore to myself that I will NEVER invite her to be on my podcast. I have interviewed many women in business and many are just regular women who have no airs. They’re down-to-earth, humble and happy to share their stories. Even the ones who have been interviewed a gazillion times by other media.

But I take the rejection as a lesson for me to be smarter in choosing who I wish to interview and spotlight. Why should I give the spotlight to someone who doesn’t deserve it? Someone who thinks she is better than all of us?

I reminded myself that for that one bitchy woman who derided my request that there are hundreds of other women who will be supportive and even grateful.

Why do some women have to be bitchy to one another when we know how tough it is to do what we each do?

Why do some women compete when they can collaborate?

Why do some women feel compelled to show off and act like the queen when it’s not warranted?

Are these women insecure?

So if you’ve had experiences like mine, I need to know, how do you handle rude people?

Your Chance To Head To Hawaii

The Changing Faces programme is back!

I had the chance to be selected and given the scholarship to attend this women’s leadership programme in July 2019 and it was life-changing!

Thanks to this programme, I launched my Womenpreneur Asia podcast which is now in its 4th season with 45 episodes to boot. And to think back in July 2019, I was scratching my head trying to figure out how to get the podcast launched!

If there are pivotal moments in my life, this programme is one of them. (I did a presentation and talk when I came back. Here are the slides from that session.)

I met amazing women from the rest of Asia Pacific whom I still keep in touch with. And one of the best things is that I get to meet other women who have taken the programme. We are now alumnae of this leadership programme and share a kinship even if we haven’t met each other. The network is incredibly diverse and when you take part in this, you are plugged into an ecosystem of knowledgeable women across the Asia Pacific and beyond.

In fact, I recently interviewed a Mongolian woman for my podcast who is my “senior” from this programme – she had been part of this programme a few years before me. In the Hawaiian term, we are “ohana” or family!

I blogged about my experiences in Hawaii and they are unforgettable.

If you want a quick version, here’s a summary video of what we did in those 2 memorable weeks on the islands of Oahu and Maui.

Can you spot me in the video below?

This year, the programme is open again for applications and if you do get into the programme, you will experience the magic that is Hawaii.

It is only for women though so read the application criteria carefully and may your body of work, experience and knowledge get you into this programme.

Find out more at

Cultivating The Brand of You: Here’s What I Learnt

As a writer and marketer and a business owner, I have been writing and marketing a lot in the past 2 years (especially live streaming which was a challenge and fear I set to conquer and podcasting). I think of the past 2 years as important because they’ve been instrumental to my own growth, of me pushing my own boundaries.

But the past 2 years have also been memory lapses where sometimes I think hard about what I’ve been doing and I can’t recall some parts of the year or even a specific month! Have you had that happen to you as a result of too many off and on lockdowns?

Work and business have been interesting – many new opportunities are opening up and I believe they’re a result of me finally taking charge of what I want.

And early this month, I was also pleased to receive an award (or rather a medal) from the Penang State Governor in conjunction with his 72nd birthday. It was a delightful surprise to receive the official letter but it was not pleasant to undergo a PCR swab test before I could attend the official awards ceremony!

Received the Pingat Kelakuan Terpuji from the State Governor of Penang on 10 November.

Many friends congratulated me on LinkedIn and Facebook, remarking that I deserved the award/medal because of the work that I have been doing in the Penang community. The oddest thing is, I never started out desiring any award or medal for the work that I do. Perhaps that is the biggest lesson of all – even for me.

The new Penang Governor pinning the medal on me. I know, my hair got messy!

My work originates from the interest that I have in women’s empowerment particularly from the entrepreneurship point of view. I am also a big believer in communication which is again related to my background in copywriting, website content strategy and SEO content development. In addition, I also am a proponent of zero waste living where I personally try to reuse, repurpose and recycle as much as I can. And I love to talk about marketing to clients and friends and all these different threads of interests converge in ways that enable me to serve in various capacities in the community.

So I guess the big lesson here is to truly focus on what you want to do and do it whole-heartedly and with sincerity. People and organisations will notice.

Just last week, I was invited to a youth entrepreneurship competition by a friend. This is how I know that my core interests are resonating with others – they start to associate me with events and people related to marketing and entrepreneurship.

This brings me to this topic – personal branding or personal brand. A lot of people like to talk about this but have very little idea how to go about it. A personal brand is about associating oneself with what one wants to be known for. But it is also about being true to your own motivation and needs. It is not faking it nor is it putting on a mask for the world. It is not about trying too hard or about wanting to please others.

(It’s not about playing to your ego. Some unheard of companies will come to you and say you’re nominated and finalised for the best entrepreneur award or will be listed in some book or Xpedia or publication but here’s the kicker – you have to pay to be listed! In the past, the unscrupulous ones baited people with greed but now with prestige, fame and power, they latch onto your ego and here’s the best paragraph: “To support this, we expect a standard sponsorship fee of $2500 in which you will receive all the aforementioned benefits along with the print edition of the magazine to your office address and one time opportunity to place your company Ad in the future editions of your choice.” To this end, I see so many acquaintances I know who are listed in these “publications” and I want to scream, what the heck are you all sane people thinking?)

In my case, I also enjoy TCM (that’s Traditional Chinese Medicine) and exploring the world of TCM herbs, meridians and Qi and if you know me, you know I even dedicate a blog to this subject. And yet, I don’t talk very much about this unless I need to. It’s because I want to be associated with certain topics that are business-focused. Does it mean that TCM is not important? Not at all. TCM is my lifelong passion but I have no intention of turning it into a business. I am a hobbyist and I am contented to be a hobbyist. I have no grand dreams of becoming a TCM practitioner although I am familiar with herbs and how herbs can contribute to a healthier life.

And perhaps this is where being extremely strategic and focused come into play. In cultivating a personal or even company brand, it takes as much effort to subtract as much as it is to add. It is very easy to add and get complicated. It is a herculean effort to subtract. But it is in subtraction that we cut away the unnecessary and trivialities that bog us down.

I would never say I know everything that there is to know about crafting a personal brand but I know enough to get me where I want to go. I see women, especially women who strive for recognition and success but the formula isn’t about striving for recognition or success – the formula is simply identifying 2-3 core passions that drive you regardless of the fame or money and keep talking about these passions online and offline and keep being valuable and helpful even as you promote these passions!

Even as recently as last week, a woman who works in one of the multinational companies messaged me on LinkedIn saying that she wants to contribute to women’s development and is interested in this topic and could I let her know how she could get started? I give her brownie points for this as she knows what she is keen about and willing to explore!

These days it’s even easier. You have your own blog (which I always encourage anyone with a point of view to start because it is YOUR space to pontificate and no one can ever tell you to get off the platform) and you have social media.

Soon the people around you will notice you and your work. It helps if you can get into organisations that fuel that passion further which means strengthening your brand as you serve the people you are with. Look for men and women who can mentor or guide you and always be open to getting advice. And if you can, volunteer with a diverse group of people because you can only grow when you start understanding others and how to work with others. I’ve worked with all kinds of people, from the very young to people in their 70s and 80s and I’ve appreciated these interactions for the experiences they’ve imparted. I also have friends from all kinds of backgrounds as this helps to inform me of all the things I don’t know about! Diversity truly makes me smarter.

I’ve always been open to working on short-term projects with people I don’t know or even people I know well. In projects, I get to see how people really work (or don’t – and yes there are plenty of that too!). I get to decide if I want to work with some people again based on their behaviour and attitude in the first project that we are in. If I see some aberrations in their character, I stay a mile away after that. It’s easier to say no later because you already know who they are and how they work.

So I use projects to tease the true personalities of people I meet. It’s usually an accurate way of figuring out a person. If someone is helpful in a project, you bet that person is helpful outside of the project. If a person is lazy, crappy on follow-up and goes AWOL most of the time, I will never be in the same project or fundraiser with this person again no matter how nice she or he is in the eyes of others.

I’ve learnt the hard way sometimes when I trust too much so I’ve devised a method to deal with people who initially seem nice but you don’t want to be on their team when crap hits the fan. I’ve seen “leaders” throw their followers under the bus when troubles brew.

Gail Gibson, the podcaster of The Can Do Way

Speaking of which, I spoke about this when I was featured on The Can Do Way podcast recently. Yes, November has been a surprising month for me. Check it out if you want to find out what I said about cultivating my can-do attitude. A friend texted me yesterday from Europe saying that she found it refreshing and authentic and her favourite thing that I said was that “Open yourself up to the world and the world will open up to you”. I can’t recall I said that but hey, that’s what I meant when I said this pandemic is causing me to have memory blips! (And the fact that I am also simultaneously managing various endeavours may have something to do with it!)

I’m thinking of writing a book of what I’ve learnt as a woman, entrepreneur, podcaster, connector, marketer and storyteller. The very least is that I can help someone out there with what I’ve learnt.

What do you think? What would entice you to read a book like this? Or what would you hope to learn from a book like this? Your thoughts are welcome!

The Rocks, Sand, Pebbles and Water of Life

When things get to busy, I try to take a pause and recollect and reflect. This is how I attain some form of peace in my life and also check myself, to see if I’ve been doing too much or “running” too fast.

Many friends I know often exclaim that I do a lot.

And yesterday, I started to believe it when I had to write and submit a profile of community work I had done to someone who was nominating me for something. The fact that she said she wanted to nominate me was itself an honour.

I read through what I submitted to her and realized I have been contributing in my own way to the development of women through WomenBizSENSE and then through the Penang State via Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC).

Granted, I do sit on the board of PWDC as a director (I’d rather just call it committee member) but unlike most directorships where it’s clear who calls the shots and who does the work, the board of directors at PWDC is very much hands-on. I’m truly proud to be with some of the smartest women in Penang on this board.

I was nominated to sit on the board sometime in 2018 and I have taken my role quite seriously because I have come to realize too that women in decision-making roles can impact other women. I never take the role lightly as I know what I say or do can help a woman in Penang (PWDC runs many women-focused programmes as part of their goal to transform Penang into a more gender-inclusive community).

When friends tell me that I’m doing a lot, I believe them. I do quite a fair bit BUT and here’s the disclaimer, I am having fun!

I’ve always reiterated this be it to my mentees or friends; you always need to have fun at whatever you’re doing, pro bono or paid.

Paid is where business is and that’s where I also take it that I must have fun. If I am not having fun, it is time to change up the business or find a new focus or a new angle.

In pro bono work, I must always know that I am enjoying it. If I am not, something is seriously wrong and I could be the wrong one for the role. And yes, if it is not the right role, I will these days leave or at least let others take the helm.

In the community work that I do, I always remember why I am doing it. Fiscally it won’t make the money that can be made through commerce. But if I look at it non-fiscally, I know that the rewards are greater than the physical money. I’ve been amply rewarded with the kindness of friends and people I associate with and with it, a lot of trust.

One mentee told me recently that she was absolutely delighted to find out that I was her mentor in the Penang Women Entrepreneurship Mentoring Programme (that will end after 6 months this 31 March). She had heard of me and known my work way before she applied to be a mentee.

I spent every Saturday afternoon, 4 to 5 hours, virtually with my group of mentees together with a co-mentor Dr Intan beginning last October to coach and guide these fledgeling entrepreneurs. It wasn’t my first mentoring experience but it was interesting to guide 6 women. In the past, I’ve had at most 2 mentees maximum and our engagement was about a few hours a month.

I could’ve done a lot of things every Saturday from 1.30pm to 5.30pm but I chose to dedicate and give my time to help 6 women understand the foundation of business from crafting their mission and vision to building up their Business Model Canvas to figuring out how they would price their products, to developing their marketing channels and more. It has been intensely rewarding as I see them gain confidence not only in business but also in their presentation skills.

Helping people has always been in me. When I was 8 years old, my late mum used to berate me as I was on the phone helping a classmate, A, with her homework. A was rather lazy and never did her homework but at the last minute she’d phone me to ask for answers. In those days, the phone was a bulky, black device. I felt bad and wondered why my mum didn’t like me helping A. I guess my mum saw through A and wanted to prevent A from taking advantage of me.

But I constantly remind myself, that whether I am helping people or not, I have to take care of the rocks, pebbles, sand and water of life. Remembering this aligns me to what I need to focus on the most. Rocks represent the important things in life – family, health, spirituality and friends.

Pebbles are things like job, car, business and home while sand is just everything else that fills up the day. Finally water? That’s the recreation part of life. So if you’ve seen the video of how a jar can be filled up with all these four things, you’d understand how we need to take care of the big things in our lives first. That’s where the importance lies.

Many people take care of the pebbles and wonder they need to work so hard or fear so much (the fear of losing something and usually it is material). Many forget the rocks and later come to regret why they’re lonely or are ill or again, purpose-less.

I believe we need to strike a healthy balance between the rocks, pebbles and sand.

One of the most life-changing books I read just out of university was Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad but unlike many, I didn’t rush out to grab the real estate so that I could rent them out to others. His book taught me about doodads – those useless things we think we need but really don’t. Many people honestly have too many doodads in their lives which sometimes can be those pesky pebbles that start to run our lives.

I have friends who bought into the real estate idea with so much enthusiasm that later on, they got into trouble as they feared not being able to pay for 4 mortgages (yes, I have friends with not one but 4 mortgages plus a growing family). I have a friend who tells me he wants to retire at 40 and run a non-profit (he’s sick of his job). I have another friend who wants to dispose of her KL apartments cheaply (as she can’t juggle the mortgages anymore).

See what I mean by taking on too many doodads? If you take on doodads and can handle them all, more power to you. But most people can’t and we wonder why all those “make money in your pajamas” or “make passive income” courses get so popular?

To complement that book, I also read Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People which set the tone for who I wanted to be in my life. I believe I am an effective person because I chose to do what I believe makes me happy and fulfilled. These 2 books should be required reading for anyone who is fresh out of university.

These books helped me think smarter about the world at large and helped me see where I should place my focus on.

What about you? What has helped you become who you are today?