Character & Soul, Self-Improvement

This Article Will Change The Way You Look At Yourself – Deborah Tan

Because we are certain everyone has an inspiring story waiting to be discovered, the team at Material World decides today to share their individual UNTOLD story.

In the last 3 weeks, Material World highlighted 3 women who shared their UNTOLD stories. Today, the team would like to share our UNTOLD stories to demonstrate that no story is too insignificant and no lesson too small to inspire. If you feel inspired to share your UNTOLD story after this, email it to us at general@materialworld.com.sg . We look forward to reading your story too!

Denise Li
The first impression Denise gives people is that of a tough lady who can punch the living daylights out of both men and women. Truth is, martial arts was a relatively recent discovery for her. Below, she talks about how it changed her life … for the better.

Denise (in blue) at her first boxing match.

Denise (in blue) at her first boxing match.

“A few years ago, I found myself drinking quite a bit on a regular basis, and I knew, deep down, that the drinking was a coping mechanism for the constant worrier in me. When I drank, I felt lighter, happier, and freer. In short, I drank to escape from my problems.

One hungover Saturday morning as I struggled to recover from a raging hangover, I realized that I was sick of relying on alcohol as a crutch. I decided that I needed to channel all that nervous energy into a healthier habit. Two days later, I found myself signing up with a muay thai gym, and I never looked back.

Now, five years on, martial arts is at the core of my existence. From muay thai, I moved onto boxing, and recently started MMA. Martial arts has taught me discipline, perseverance and, most importantly, the importance of keeping calm under pressure. I have a much better handle on stress and anxiety, and though I still enjoy the odd tipple every now and then, I no longer feel the need to binge-drink. Now, whenever I’m angry or stressed, I head to the gym. There’s nothing a gruelling workout can’t fix!”

 

Lili Tan
The statuesque Lili has a figure that many envy but did you know that in her teenage years, she was often mocked by classmates for being overweight. Today, she is a regular at run events and she actually loves running. Read on to find out what she has to say.

Lili (second from left) beams with pride after the Sundown Marathon.

Lili (second from left) beams with pride after the Sundown Marathon.

“Back in secondary school, I was bullied for being overweight. I remember dreading the TAF (Trim & Fit) Club sessions – us overweight kids stood at the back of our respective classes during assembly once a week so we could adjourn to the exercise venue while the rest of our classmates continued to read “silently”. Every time we broke away from our classes, a gulf of shame and hurt would wash over me, no thanks to insensitive schoolmates who would openly mock us. My self-esteem was at its lowest.

Right after graduation, I figured tertiary life was the perfect chance for me to start anew. Over years of hard work and determination, I managed to shed the excess kilos. It wasn’t a massive transformation but it was enough to shock old friends that I bumped into on the streets.

Even though I have come to accept that teenagers are just prone to silly, insensitive acts, those jibes and insults stuck with me – and I guess this is why they say revenge is sweet: it always feels SO GOOD seeing ex-schoolmates stumped and speechless when they see how I look today. But, the strength you gain from a horrible experience is infinitely sweeter.”

 

Vanessa Tai
Nothing cheers Vanessa up like a good session of karaoke! The girl belts out both Cantonese and English songs with gusto. But she wasn’t always so confident with the microphone. She tells us her story.

Vanessa is no longer afraid to show off her vocal prowess!

Vanessa is no longer afraid to show off her vocal prowess!

“Most of my friends know I absolutely love singing but not many people know that I used to be extremely self-conscious about my singing voice. That’s because of an insensitive teacher in primary school who told me that I was tone deaf. Since then, I avoided singing in public as much as possible, feeling mortified whenever I hear my singing voice.

While I toyed with the idea of taking vocal lessons, I kept putting it off because I didn’t want to be embarrassed. Finally, fed up with my endless whinging, my mum signed me up for vocal lessons. The first semester was particular trying; it was hard to ignore the shame I was made to feel about my singing as a kid. However, under the patient and encouraging tutelage of my then-vocal coach, my confidence grew.

It’s now been two years since I first enrolled and I’ve recently graduated. While I’m no Adele, I’m definitely way more confident about singing in public now. What I’ve learned from this experience is that people (even people we respect or trust) are going to throw hurtful remarks at us all the time. The difference is whether we choose to wallow in it or find some way to triumph over it.”

 

Deborah Tan
As the former editor of two magazines, one would think Deborah was an ace in English back in school. The truth, however, cannot be further away … 

Deborah (far right) on her last day with her team from Cosmopolitan.

Deborah (far right) on her last day with her team from Cosmopolitan.

“When I was in school, my teachers never made me forget that my English was appalling. It was true. Grammar was a challenge and no one thought I’d be capable of passing English. Although I had – by some stroke of luck – scored an A1 at the O Levels (my teachers ‘projected’ that the best I could do was a C5), I had a C6 for General Paper at the A Levels. In the first week of my freshman year at university, I had to sit for an English proficiency test to prove that I could actually speak and write in English.

It seems ironic that I had been able to carve a great career for myself in publishing and am now making a living out of writing.

When people say you need a natural flair in languages to be good at them, they are wrong. You can train and teach yourself to be good at English – in fact, be good at ANYTHING. All you need is an insane amount of willpower and focus. One of my techniques is: when I read a book and I stumble upon an interesting grammar ‘law’, I would make a mental note and look for other instances where it is used in the same way. Then, I would try to incorporate it into my writing the next time and keep using it until I’m familiar with the way it works.

What this has taught me about Life is that if you allow someone to define you, you’ll always be limited by them. I don’t let anyone tell me who I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to do. I call the shots.”

Watch all 3 episodes of “Her UNTOLD Story” here and find out how you can win a $400 Elizabeth Arden hamper by sharing your very own UNTOLD story.  

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About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She believes every one can create a more awesome life for themselves. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

 

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Branded Content, Character & Soul, Self-Improvement

From 6-Figure Debt To 5-Figure Salary – Denise Li

She was a well-known beauty queen before becoming a thriving businesswoman, but Genecia Luo, founder of Queenz*8 Business Group did not achieve success overnight. From having to keep her family financially afloat during her teen years, to overcoming crippling debt just 4 years ago, she’s faced more than her fair share of obstacles. She tells Denise Li how she overcame them.

Material World and Elizabeth Arden Present Genecia Luo’s UNTOLD Story

 

What was Life like when you were 14? If you were to say, “Spending a lot of time in school and doing CCAs, and attending tuition”, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. Certainly luckier than Genecia Luo who not just had to put herself through school, but also financially support her family from the age of 15.

Today, she is a successful businesswoman with a group of companies under her belt, but the road to success was a bumpy one, culminating in a six-figure debt just four years ago. How did she find it in herself, not just to get out of a sticky situation, but also to do so well for herself? We speak to her to find out more.

Genecia helping out at Berkat Children's Home

Genecia helping out at Berkat Children’s Home

What, to you, is the best part about being an entrepreneur?

“To me, entrepreneurship is about having the courage to live a life that a lot people cannot find it in themselves to. Entrepreneurship is about continually facing your fears. While fear can be paralysing, it can also be immensely motivating. It’s how you deal with fear that determines how successful you’ll become. I think it’s important to acknowledge the fear; that’s when you’ll know what are the steps you need to take to accomplish your goals.”

How would you describe your management style? 

“I believe in continually encouraging and empowering my staff, and instilling the importance of discipline where work ethics are concerned. At the same time, I allow them the time and space to grow as people. Every one wants to be successful in what they do, but I think everyone could do with a healthy reality check every now and then. I want my staff members to know that failures are part and parcel of building their careers. I often remind them that they shouldn’t be crippled by failure. Instead, they should have an empowered mindset that will guide them to take action and deal with obstacles as they come.”

Genecia believes deeply in giving back to society.

Genecia believes deeply in giving back to society.

Any advice for women who are thinking of becoming their own boss? 

“Striking out on your own is always scary, and we always imagine the worst possible scenarios. In reality, these situations rarely come to pass. I want women to know that they shouldn’t be crippled by their perceived limitations. Instead, they should channel that worry into something more positive by envisioning success. Don’t dwell, because the longer you dwell, the harder it’ll be for you to take action. Get educated, make mistakes, learn, repeat. You don’t want to be that person who regrets not doing enough for herself when you get older.”

Watch: Episode 1 of “Her UNTOLD Story” with Lena Sim, founder and CEO of Ministry of Food.

Watch: Episode 2 of “Her UNTOLD Story” with Yvonne Chee, youngest Singaporean to complete 7 Marathons on 7 Continents.

Tell us your very own UNTOLD story and you might just win an Elizabeth Arden hamper worth more than $400.

elizabeth arden prize

Tell us your very own personal story of overcoming the obstacles Life placed in your way. The best story not only gets to be featured on Material World, it will also win an Elizabeth Arden product hamper! Each hamper contains a UNTOLD Eau Légère 100ml (worth $117), Beautiful Color Moisturizing Lipstick #Red Door Red (worth $34), and a Prevage® AM Regimen Starter Kit (worth $248).

For details on how you can win one, remember to watch the entire video.

Score an exclusive sample of UNTOLD Eau Légère! Simply be among the first 150 readers to visit Elizabeth Arden counter at Robinsons Raffles City from NOW and quote “Material World” to earn your sample fragrance vial.

This is the third of 3 videos Material World has produced in collaboration with Elizabeth Arden. Elizabeth Arden worked with Material World to produce a series of videos featuring Singaporean women, each with their own inspiring tale to share. The women featured are not spokespeople of Elizabeth Arden and they were not remunerated for their participation in this project.

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Branded Content, Character & Soul, Self-Improvement

She Is The Youngest Singaporean To … – Deborah Tan

Last year, Yvonne Chee became the youngest Singaporean to complete 7 marathons on 7 continents – all this while juggling an overseas job posting! At Material World’s video shoot for Elizabeth Arden’s new UNTOLD Eau Legere fragrance, Deborah Tan interviews Yvonne over Skype to find out more about her story.

Material World and Elizabeth Arden Present Yvonne Chee’s UNTOLD Story

 

First, forgive us if this video with Yvonne comes across as “DIY”. The segments featuring her talking were shot by her husband. Material World interviewed Yvonne over Skype to get her Untold story because it was simply too inspiring to miss!

When it comes to running, we either love it or hate it. Yvonne took her love for running to the extreme by making it her goal to run a marathon on every continent on this planet. So what drove her to do something, many of us consider “madness”? We get the low-down:

Yvonne2You are the youngest Singaporean to achieve this feat. Were there any other Singaporeans who have done it before?

“Prior to my completing this goal, two other Singaporeans have done so – Dr William Tan in 2007 and Ms Gloria Lau in 2012.”

Was this just only about running?

“No. While the goal was to run a marathon on every continent, I dedicated this project to a charity as well, helping to raise funds and awareness through my efforts. I wanted to raise funds for the Tsao Foundation because I wanted to honor the memory of my late grandmother who took care of me while I was growing up. In Singapore, we tend to forget about the elderly but they too have contributed to the society in their time and we need to remember that.”

Yvonne3Tell us more about your grandmother.

“My grandmother passed away in 1997 – a week before my GCE A-level exams. I was so devastated and cried endlessly for days. It seemed as if I would be a total wreck going into my exams but I knew she wouldn’t want me to wallow in sadness and so, I decided to focus on doing well so she would be proud of me.”

How did you manage to juggle a full-time job and training for your marathons?
“Training for my marathons and raising funds and awareness for the Tsao Foundation meant a serious loss of social life. I slept only 5 hours every day. My husband’s main complaint was that I wasn’t getting enough sleep and that my early hours meant I ‘made too much noise’! Some see it as a sacrifice but I derived a great sense of joy and satisfaction working towards my goal and giving back to society.”

Watch: Episode 1 of “Her UNTOLD Story” with Lena Sim, founder and CEO of Ministry of Food.

Tell us your very own UNTOLD story and you might just win an Elizabeth Arden hamper worth more than $400.

elizabeth arden prize

Tell us your very own personal story of overcoming the obstacles Life placed in your way. The best story not only gets to be featured on Material World, it will also win an Elizabeth Arden product hamper! Each hamper contains a UNTOLD Eau Légère 100ml (worth $117), Beautiful Color Moisturizing Lipstick #Red Door Red (worth $34), and a Prevage® AM Regimen Starter Kit (worth $248).

For details on how you can win one, remember to watch the entire video.

Score an exclusive sample of UNTOLD Eau Légère! Simply be among the first 150 readers to visit Elizabeth Arden counter at Robinsons Raffles City from NOW and quote “Material World” to earn your sample fragrance vial.

This is the second of 3 videos Material World has produced in collaboration with Elizabeth Arden. Elizabeth Arden worked with Material World to produce a series of videos featuring Singaporean women, each with their own inspiring tale to share. The women featured are not spokespeople of Elizabeth Arden and they were not remunerated for their participation in this project.

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Branded Content, Character & Soul, Entrepreneurship, Self-Improvement

The Story of This Restaurant Owner Will Surprise You – Vanessa Tai

Lena Sim, founder and CEO of Ministry of Food, has a story that is worthy of any bestselling novel. At Material World’s video shoot for Elizabeth Arden’s new UNTOLD Eau Legere fragrance, Vanessa Tai sat down with Lena to find out more about her fascinating journey.

Material World and Elizabeth Arden Presents Lena Sim’s UNTOLD Story

 

Perhaps one of the last things you’d associate with a restauranteur is a childhood marked by poverty and hunger. Abandoned by her parents as a baby, Lena and her grandmother were left to fend for themselves. Lena and her grandmother were sometimes too poor to buy food that they were forced to rummage through rubbish bins for leftovers.

Behind the scenes of the Elizabeth Arden Untold Legere shoot.

Behind the scenes of the Elizabeth Arden Untold Legere shoot.

After graduating from university, she had a high-paying job in the finance industry but she still felt something was missing. She quit her job to travel for a bit, and found herself in Taiwan where she first tried a delicious green tea dessert from an old Japanese dessert chain. From there, she travelled to Japan to convince the founders of the dessert chain to expand to Singapore. After a lot of time and effort, her tenacity once again paid off and Ministry of Food was born.

Today, there are over 50 restaurants in Singapore under the Ministry of Food brand, and plans are in the pipeline to expand the brand across the region. Of course, the entrepreneurial path is never always a smooth one. Lena shares with us what keeps her going.

Tell us about the challenges you face and how you overcome them.

“Each day is a challenge; there will always be problems to solve and fires to fight. Entrepreneurship is all about facing failure, crying, and then standing up again. I believe the moment you stop running is the moment your business will flop. You just have to persevere and never say die. Every business is like a marathon – you need a lot of patience, discipline, and perseverance.”

How do you cope with the pressure?

“When you are doing something you love, you will naturally have the energy to press on. When I first made the career switch into F&B, my peers used to think I was making a big mistake and would laugh at me. However, these same people who chose to follow their ‘brains’ are now unhappy and stressed out in their jobs, with some of them even facing very real possibilities of retrenchment. This is why I firmly believe in following your heart. I’m full of energy each day, and I rarely feel tired when I’m at work.”

Do you ever find time to unwind?

“I hardly unwind because I enjoy myself so much at work that I don’t find a need to unwind. However, I’ve recently discovered it’s actually very therapeutic to go grocery shopping!”

Myself, Lena, and the videography team!

Myself, Lena, and the videography team!

 

Tell us your very own UNTOLD story and you might just win an Elizabeth Arden hamper worth more than $400.

elizabeth arden prize

Tell us your very own personal story of overcoming the obstacles Life placed in your way. The best story not only gets to be featured on Material World, it will also win an Elizabeth Arden product hamper! Each hamper contains a UNTOLD Eau Légère 100ml (worth $117), Beautiful Color Moisturizing Lipstick #Red Door Red (worth $34), and a Prevage® AM Regimen Starter Kit (worth $248).

For details on how you can win one, remember to watch the entire video.

Score an exclusive sample of UNTOLD Eau Légère! Simply be among the first 150 readers to visit Elizabeth Arden counter at Robinsons Raffles City from NOW and quote “Material World” to earn your sample fragrance vial.

This is the first of 3 videos Material World has produced in collaboration with Elizabeth Arden. Elizabeth Arden worked with Material World to produce a series of videos featuring Singaporean women, each with their own inspiring tale to share. The women featured are not spokespeople of Elizabeth Arden and they were not remunerated for their participation in this project.

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