Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I learnt to be gracious to serve Singaporeans

Have been sick for 2 weeks, cough, fever, flu, what have you, I got it... and somehow in those period of being sick, and still trying to run the usual routine, kept me desperate for a touch from Heaven.
I just came back from a leader's meeting. And today, we prayed for our nation - Singapore. It has been a reminder that how blessed we are as Singaporeans and how much we being small has impacted the world that is so huge...

But when it came to my turn to pray, I started confessing my wrongs abt my views abt Singaporeans, and my often expressions made "So Singaporean, Typically Kiasu". Honestly, having being a wedding planner in my 4th year, I must say there are quite many encounters where I personally get to witness the "Kiasu Philosophy" been exhibited among the couples that come along our ways...

- "Can you negotiate with the hotel for the best deals, and ensure we have the best, and the most in all we want to get from them..."
- "Can you help us to bargain with the suppliers for better discounts, but not jeopardise the service level and quality they will provide to us"
- "Can you ensure that the wedding will be perfect, since that was the sole purpose we want to engage a wedding planner."
- "We love your floral and theme creations, but could you compromise to work only with a cheaper florist or the existing hotel florist within the hotel floral budget given"...

There are hundreds of amazing requests and sometimes demands we face day by day... and often, I can't help but feel : Are Singaporeans that Kiasu always..
In fact, it seems internationally people called us that..."Kiasu Singaporeans : everything must be cheap, cheap cheap, and best best best...."
And unknowingly, I have developed a negative perception whenever a couple will to ask me to bargain, trash the suppliers, asking for more and paying less...

To me, when you hire a supplier, price is only but one determinant. The entire value this supplier can offer to you is what really matters. When the value is right, you confirm the engagement. But how do we justify that the value is right? We measure based on the pros and cons presented in the choices we have.
However, often we try to stretch one's value by demanding more benefits than what have already been presented (sometimes I am guilty of that as well). We are demanding for more value, by not paying more...and that often is impossible. I will sometimes call this "Exploitations"

Yet, as a Singaporean myself, I can't deny our government has taught us well - to be diligent, to strive for the best, to attain excellence within that limited resources we have. Something I am proud of. Yet, sometimes I wonder, have we begin to distort the attitude that we can get the most returns at the lowest cost we are willing to invest..

I believe for a society and economy to do well, one has to come to realise we have to give as much as we receive. In fact, the principles of prosperity is not to keep receiving or saving, it is to keep making and never stop giving. The rich makes more money, and distribute wealth to the poor thru more jobs so that they can be sufficient. If the rich simply makes more to keep, and not to spend with the poor, then the poor becomes poorer, and there will be exploitations, and abuse, and the world is no longer a better place to live.

Tonight, after that confession, I heard the Lord reminding me, "Hannah, you are blessed as a Singaporean, and you are blessed because you are Singaporean.. and therefore, channel your blessings back to this nation and to the people you meet in this country. Tell yourself today "Singaporeans will not be Kiasu, Singaporeans will be generous and gracious. Everything will not be cheap cheap cheap . Everything will be great great great.

So couples out there, today when you read my blog, do not find offence in this confession. But let's together as one learns to bless as much as we have received. As I often says "Wedding = Celebration, and not a showcase. And you can celebrate with any budget, big or small. If you have small budget, then work with reasonable expectations and trust your suppliers. If you have big budget, then believe in your suppliers that they will want to wow you as much as you want to be wowed. Do not set demands, manage your expectations. And trust me, every wedding will be blessed, and everyone will be happy. Afterall, isn't this what we are looking for when we plan our wedding.... that everyone, i.e. your family, guests as well as vendors are all happy to make your wedding beautiful...

My 2 cents worth...

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Paradigm Shift

I just attended a great conference and was really refreshed... and I am so glad I did not have to plan any wedding on the hottest wedding day i.e. 7 July 2007... ya, many didn't believe.. Straits Times called me and they were surprised, but I think it is all pre-destined so that I could get to hear what I needed to hear today. To be exact, I will have a wedding to plan tomorrow, my bride wanted to be her wedding on 7 Jul, but since so many good artists are fully booked on this date, 8 Jul was the alternative.

Ed Silvoso, a strategic business evangelist and preacher, one great pastor I admire, reminded me of my role as a wedding planner, the reason what my company Heaven's Gift is all about. For the past few months, because of family matters, the busyness of events after events, and the demands many have over my own personal life, I felt stretched and lost.. and yet in the midst of loss, I have to remained confident and contained.. and that often drains me out..

But today, I relearnt some simple and profound truths.. and I am so blessed I was liberated:
1) My Labour is my Worship. Often when we work, we work for a living, we work to survive. But this company was set up from a call to go beyond what I think I can do, a passion to bless the people out there. But sometimes, under the stretch of demands of clients, the logistical elements, I forgot what I have designed the company to be. It is Heaven's Gift. It is a gift from God for me, it is a gift to all who come in contact with Heaven's Gift.

2) Since my labour is my worship, then I should dare to believe I will excel in whatever I do, and eventually be prominent in the industry. I looked back, I have not spent much efforts seeking for clients, clients came to me. Sometimes, I wonder how do I even attract my couples.. often I am convinced, someone supernatural has enabled many to see the strengths in me beyond what I can see in myself. For that, I am amazed.

3) I am called to be a business woman. This sounds strange to you that it should be very obvious to me. Honestly, those who really know me will know my only dream is to get married, and serve my husband. I somehow always believe my husband will be a businessman and all I learnt is to eventually support him. And since he is still in the making or rather me in the making.. I have channelled my energy to my career and ministry as a passing journey in that waiting. Yet the truth is I knew deep within, since the day I started working, I was trained to be a entrepreneur. My bosses often told me, Hannah you have more than you thought you can imagine. Your consolidated mind will bring you to greater heights.. but you need to believe. I often feel guilty am I too career minded, which is why I can't seem to settle down. But now looking back, I have never sought to be a career woman, I was put in position at every step of my life to be molded to be who I am today thru journey that God has allowed me to enter. So, Hann, stop feeling guilty when someone says, it's time you move slow, find a man and settle down. Rather God has your future planned.. and He knows what you need, you simply trust and obey.

4) Be a blessing to the community, remember the poor. One of the fundamentals of my way of running a business is to train new blood and seeing my business impart right principles, attitudes to these new lives. And ultimately raise up a generation that believes in their works, and do good for the community out there, particularly the children. I remembered one planner asked me, aren't you afraid the new interns will steal your ideas, setup a company and compete with you. I remembered this is what I said " The industry is big enough for new players. I can't stop people from stealing my ideas, or learning tips from me to eventually compete with me. But I do not want to stop myself from growing and believing in new talents. When I choose to give, I actually receive more than I thought I have given. Besides, I do not want to stop people from learning from me, I want people to remember whom they have learnt from. The principles they learn from me are far more important than the skills they have tapped from me.

Finally, I am once again reminded.. my God is my source of strength and hope. I am not ashamed to declare it. My life and my company is blessed because of what He has done in and thru me. To God be the glory.. Help me to remember all the above truths again.. and stay focus to what I am called to do.