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Monthly Archives: May 2019

One of the things I missed about being self employed is not having colleagues to try out new lunch venues or chill at tea, “whatsup” catching up with office gossip, and especially the learning workshops we were forced to attend. And the travelling. Which was quite fun, since it was only 10%, in my work – no budget. The free newspapers, so essential to keeping up with research and client information.

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While I enjoy managing my own time, minimal department meetings, no office politics (I still have a boss. My clients are my boss.), there is a downside to being a free lancer/ gig economy worker/ self employed. Lonely. Iron sharpens iron. (Confessions of an introvert.)

How do freelancers thrive in the future of work?

NTUC has set up a chapter for Free lancers and self employed, check out their facebook.

There will be an upcoming 2 day workshop to equip free lancers with digital skills, considering that coaches can still be paid through cash, app, and internet banking.

Step One: Company Name and type of work

First, think of a name for your company and register it with the government. Set up an ACRA account. Its not difficult. https://www.acra.gov.sg/

How do you use your time wisely as a tennis coach, if classes are cancelled on a rainy day?

Today, many of the younger generation prefer to be self employed. Digital tools have made it possible.

Step Two: Join NTUC FSE

Join a community. Why? Social, getting ideas, learn something. Example, how to pitch yourself?

There are a number of associations to join:

Singapore Association of Motion Picture Professionals
Screenwriters Association (Singapore)
IoTalents for online and IT workforce
Caregiver Asia
Creatives at Work (CAW) for media freelancers
Tueetoer (for free lance tutors)

Step three: Market yourself

Get a professionally done photograph, nothing fancy, but very presentable @ caregivers asia. You can check out the photographs done for their freelance caregivers. Joel Tam.

You can start a Facebook, Instagram or even Blog. Register with a number of providers like Fiverr, Upwork, Tueetor etc.

72 Best Freelance Jobs Websites to Get Remote Freelance Work (Fast)

You can create a podcast with your mobile or a youtube video.

For a lady who does storytelling for children. She was articulating the benefits of her course. Learning while playing. Joel articulated that her blog could include a simple Powtoons tip of the day for parents, “Three things your child can play while learning without realising.”

Even creating Infographics. I especially like the tip of how Joel broke into writing reviews for cars. He took a photograph of his own car and sent it to major automotive brands. Wow. Such a simple and impactful idea. Sometimes, just talking to someone who has done it, helps break down the “barriers in our head”.

Many of the self employed entrepreneurs I discovered, wear multiple hats and have multiple streams of income. Joel is Marketing Director at Caregivers as well as Care review etc.

Recognise that you need T-shaped skills. Deep expertise, applied to different businesses.

An important tip he shared was, if you have 70,000 followers on your Instagram account, but they are not in your target market, then you may want to start afresh. Localise your content. Especially for freelancers working towards a local clientele.

Step 4: How do you hook clients with a strong pitch?

In your self introduction, dont just talk about ideas. Talk about yourself as an idea. Your transformational journey, eg from a chemical engineer to a muay thai instructor, and how those little bits of you are combined to make you who you are today.

Not just another mindfulness instructor, but a sports coach who combines mindfulness in the journey.

What are three superhero characteristics you bring, from your life journey?

I was a _________. (Painpoint: A conflict I felt _________. I decided to ________. The pivot helped me _____________.

So what are you waiting for?

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Designing the ideal chair for your partner client

Empathy, understand your client.

What I found designing for my partner (client), is that I was actually designing for myself. My ideal chair.

Her ideal, well, my client was not very forthcoming was, a Japanese style tatami chair.

What a surprise.

Ask, draw, check, and if possible, ask them to draw it out.

In career coaching, its the same. You may think you know the ideal job for your client,  it can be entirely different from what your client has in mind.

After a week in Kagoshima and Yakushima, known for its agriculture, I want to pay tribute to Japanese mastery and continuoius improvement.

Kagoshima is famous for its black Kurobuta pork perfected from the black Berkshire pig gifted by the UK.

Despite what you hear about over-worked Japanese office workers, a culture that coined the term Karoshi or death by over-work, it does not apply to farm animals. Pigs do get depression. Farmers know that unhappy pigs do not produce good meat. So they keep pigs happy with exercise and clean food.

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This month while some are on holiday, Alibaba founder, Jack Ma made headlines advising young people the need to work 996, 9am to 9pm, 6 days a week.

Shortly after, he made an about turn when he drew a lot of negativity.

In a sense Jack Ma is not wrong. Malcolm Gladwell popularised the concept of “deliberate practice” or 10,000 hours rule that to achieve excellence, deliberate practice is needed. There is no true genius without hard work.

What is the difference between an overworked employee or a workaholic and a high performer?

Mastery
Autonomy and
Sense of Purpose or Meaning.

Research abounds that working long hours with high stress is unproductive and harmful to the body. Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/332234

Hours do not translate to high stress.

Stress is caused by interpretation of the work, whether it is aligned to the individual’s motivation, sense of control and purpose.

Giving an individual more autonomy can ironically create more stress, if the individual has a low sense of self efficacy and external locus of control, ie they do not believe they have power to change their circumstances and are helpless victims of fate.

Some organisations have moved to using personality profiling to detect similarities in their top performers and recruit employees with a better fit.

Employees who link work to skills mastery, and career purpose are more engaged. (Daniel Pink).

To my 3rd year student who is wondering why he should bring home over the weekend for his internship:

Questions to reflect:

Mastery and Personal Excellence
1. Do the long hours contribute to personal mastery or deep skills?

Or

2. Are the long hours the result of inefficiency, wasting time waiting for inputs or misguided attention?

3. How much of work can be automated?

4. Does personality differences make a difference in an ideal employee?

5. Is your boss abusing her authorities or is hard work the norm?

6. Do you believe you can make changes to your work and a personal difference? Self efficacy. Do you have an internal locus of control.

How will you know?
Keep a personal scoreboard. Track your activities. Do they match personal, department, organisation or community goals?

As they say, if you enjoy your work, you never need to work a single day.

Jack Ma to his employees:
“Don’t make me happy, don’t love me. Make your customer happy, make your customer love you, and I will love you any minute.‘”

Jack Ma U-turns on 996 work culture, says companies ‘foolish’ to force overtime

https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/attention-restoration-theory/

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Source: my trek in the moss covered Yakushima

To concentrate, one requires directed attention. According to researchers Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, this limited resource gets depleted.

Holidaying in bustling, car honking Asian cities like Bangkok, Jakarta, Ho Chih Minh or KL gets me stressed by the loud noise. Given a choice I prefer padi fields of Bali with its restorative walks in Hue, Kota Kinabalu, Brunei and Sarawak, especially long walks in Japan calm me. Yet, being in New Zealand and Tibet although calming did not calm me.

What is it about a holiday in Japan that so fascinates me even though there are many other more interesting places in the world? I finally found my answer in an article by Courtney Ackerman on Rachel and Stephen Kaplan’s Attention Restoration Theory and the benefits of nature .

According to ART, a restorative environment possess 4 elements:

Being Away
Soft Fascination
Extent
Compatibility

Being Away
A change in environment gives the sense of being separate and transported from one’s usual thoughts and concerns. Although an individual does not need to be physically away, it can certainly be helpful.

Meditation, or changing focus such as reading a book, laughing at a comedy can help one be psychologically detached from present worries and demands, and distracted from the environment that is draining your attention and energy (Daniel, 2014).

Fascination
Here, one’s attention is held without any effort expended. Restorative environments hold your attention without your need to focus or direct it in a certain way.

Two kinds of fascination according to Kaplan:

Hard fascination: where your attention is held by a highly stimulating activity; such activities generally do not provide the opportunity to reflect or introspect, since you are completely absorbed. Eg, vigorous exercise

Soft fascination: when your attention is held by a less active or stimulating activity; such activities generally provide the opportunity to reflect and introspect (Daniel, 2014). For me, thats being in an onsen, or swimming. Unfortunately, I cant have a pen with me.
 
Extent
This component refers to the quality of restorative environments that encourages you to feel totally immersed and engaged (Kaplan, 2001).

An environment must be familiar and coherent for it to be restorative. Although you do not need to have been to the environment before, it cannot conjur feelings of excitement, discomfort, confusion, or being out-of-place which will trigger your fight or flight or need to attend to the situation.

Whats your choice of a restorative holiday?

Can you recreate intermittent holidays before the big one?

Forest Therapy in Japan
https://www.fo-society.jp/therapy/cn45/index_en.html

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Beyond sushi, Japanese cuisine is very much an art form, in presentation, choosing the right plate, balancing everything in the right frame.

My very ordinary Japanese breakfast of rice and tofu at the Ryokan Yakakutei, Kirishima presented in little dishes where eating becomes a meditative art form in front of a garden.

How do you elevate the ordinary and everyday into an art form?

🌿It does not have to be expensive, simple Daiso utensils.

🌿Or gift someone an experience, like Spanish tapas of seasonal vegetables.

🌿Or a few slices of the best, arranged in a special plate to commemorate a special occasion.

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Photo: my left eyed flounder arranged to look like a peacock spreading his feathers, at Ryokan Yakaku

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tei.

🌿Simple grilled fish on a blue ocean

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plate.

🌿Let the guest of honour cook their own in Shabu shabu style. Swish, swish and the meat is cooked.

How about taking up your own pottery class?

Simple living. I am not a robot.

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Beyond sushi, Japanese cuisine is very much an art form, in presentation, choosing the right plate, balancing everything in the right frame.

My very ordinary Japanese breakfast of rice and tofu at the Ryokan Yakakutei, Kirishima presented in little dishes where eating becomes a meditative art form in front of a garden.

How do you elevate the ordinary and everyday into an art form?

🌿It does not have to be expensive, simple Daiso utensils.

🌿Or gift someone an experience, like Spanish tapas of seasonal vegetables.

🌿Or a few slices of the best, arranged in a special plate to commemorate a special occasion.

image

Photo: my left eyed flounder arranged to look like a peacock spreading his feathers, at Ryokan Yakaku

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tei.

🌿Simple grilled fish on a blue ocean

image

plate.

🌿Let the guest of honour cook their own in Shabu shabu style. Swish, swish and the meat is cooked.

How about taking up your own pottery class?

Simple living. I am not a robot.

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Photo: my imperfect bowl at breakfast, Ryokan Yakutatei, Kirishima, Kagoshima.

In the ancient world of Chinese Tang porcelain making, transluence of the material is an art form and the highest level of craft excellence. Porcelain was a craft perfected by Chinese and introduced to the rest of the world.

Enter the Japanese philosophical concept of wabi sabi to balance this sense of perfectionism.

Appreciating the simple raw beauty of the imperfect. How the Japanese can become such masters of excellence is the balance of seeing the beauty in the imperfect and the simple.

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