The Origins of Labour Day

May 1, 2016

Just as I was leaving the home of a friend’s after dinner, he says “I’ve always believed that Labour Day should be celebrated with labour”.

I laughed, brushed it off, and didn’t think much of his comment as I was at his doorstep saying my goodnights for the evening.

When I finally got home, it hit me that I knew very little about the origins of Labour Day, and my curiosity always gets the better of me, even at 4am in the morning. (Deciding to have a homemade cappuccino after dinner was not the smartest decision I made tonight.)

In a ‘watered-down’ nutshell, here’s what I’ve learnt…

In today’s context, Labour Day is a public holiday to celebrate the achievements of a country’s workers. For many countries, including Singapore, Labour Day coincides with the International Workers’ Day, which occurs on May 1.  For other countries like Australia, Bangladesh, Bahamas, Canada, Jamaica, NZ, Trinidad & Tobago, and the United States, Labour Day is celebrated on a date that bears significance for the labour movement in their country.

Despite not celebrating Labour Day on May 1, International Workers’ Day originated in the US after the working class succeeded in their fight for 8-hour work days. Prior to that, workers were made to toil under poor conditions for 10-16 hours/day. Proponents of the ‘eight-hour day movement’ advocated 8 hours for work, 8 hours for recreation, 8 hours for rest. (Darn… why not 6 hours for work, 6 hours for family, 6 hours for friends, 6 hours for rest?) During that time, socialism was a new and attractive ideology to working people for they witnessed how capitalism led to them trading their lives for their bosses’ profits. Eventually, thousand of socialists and anarchists stood up, challenged the bureaucratic political process, and fought for the labour laws and regulations most of us take for granted today. In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions proclaimed that “eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labor from and after May 1, 1886.”

Bringing things back closer to home, the celebration of Labour Day as a public holiday in Singapore started in 1960, after the People’s Action Party (PAP) came into power, with the intention of setting aside a day in honour of workers and their contributions to Singapore. Having a designated day made it easier for workers to come together for celebrations.

With that in mind, my friend’s comment of how “Labour Day should be celebrated with labour” doesn’t seem too far-fetched going by its American origins. To truly commemorate this day for what it is, we should really be working 8-hours every May 1 to celebrate that we actually get to work 8-hour days.

But oh, what am I saying… Happy Labour Day! :)

Be Happy.

OFC Social Market by Open Farm Community

March 6, 2016

Open Farm Community Social Market Singapore

Last weekend, a friend and I discovered OFC Social Market, a fairly new addition to the weekend market scene in Singapore.

Open Farm Community Social Market Singapore

There’s just something about weekend markets that draws me to it like moths to a flame!

Being at one gives me a ‘feel‘ that’s hard to find anywhere else. This unreplicable feel comes from the nice weather – though “nice” in other countries can sometimes mean temperatures much colder and harsher than in Singapore.

Open Farm Community Social Market Singapore

This feel also comes from the friendly stall owners/entrepreneurs who are passionate about the products they are selling, and don’t mind taking the extra time to share with you their business story, from ideation to execution. As a marketer, chatting with vendors and listening to their unique stories is my favourite part, and I always walk away feeling inspired by them.

Open Farm Community Social Market Singapore

Over 30 local brands showed up at OFC Social Market last Sunday, and I loved that there was a good mix of Singaporeans and expat business owners. The market was packed full of people the whole 2 hours that I was there, so while I did not stop at every stall, here are a few that I did have the chance to shop at.

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Growth Personal

One Word and Goals for 2016

January 31, 2016
goals journal 2016 kikki k
2016, I promise you…

I see your confused face there, and I bet you’re thinking who sets goals at the end of January?

Due to the craziness that ensues from and leading up to the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) held in January every year, I never have the time in Nov/Dec to reflect and set my new year resolutions until after CES. I’ve participated in CES 3 years in a row now, so setting goals throughout January instead of by Jan.01 has pretty much become my thing. Doing it in January is also more enjoyable and less stressful for me because everyone else is no longer talking about it. Yes, all the talk about new year resolutions on blogs, websites, social media, magazines, among friends and family, stresses me out! It’s not that I don’t enjoy setting new goals and checking in on my “life plan”. In fact, I love doing it! I just don’t like doing it when everyone else (and their dog) is doing it. I don’t know why. It’s alright if you’re reading with the one-eyebrow-up-huh? look now. I’ve accepted that I’m kinda weird, so you won’t hurt my feelings thinking it.

Now that I’ve attempted to justify why I’m so far behind on new year goals, let’s get down to it.

My one word for 2016 came to me last week: PRESENT.

In 2015, my days felt like a blur of unintentional activities. I’m always looking at my schedule, checking the time, thinking and rushing to the next item/appointment.

In 2016, I hope PRESENT reminds me to savour each moment one at a time, like a gift/present. I could regret yesterday, be worried about tomorrow and completely miss the here and now, but do you see how this could easily become a vicious cycle? When tomorrow comes, I will regret not having been present today, be worried about the following day and completely miss everything tomorrow. And then repeat 365 times.

With PRESENT in the back of my mind, I set my 2016 goals. To be PRESENT, I figured I would have to let go of the rigid boundaries I set for myself and just try a little more of this and a little less of that, throwing the ‘SMART approach’ to goal-setting out the window for just one year. Alongside the plans that I’ve set for the year ahead, I promise 2016 these six things:

I PROMISE TO MOVE MORE | I intend to incorporate more active minutes throughout my day (sprinting to the toilet counts, doing squats in the pantry while waiting for water to boil for my tea counts, brisk-walking everywhere counts). I intend to run twice a week and sports climb once a week.

I PROMISE TO PROCRASTINATE LESS. At work, I intend to have only 3 mission-critical tasks per day and will tackle those items first in the morning before checking my inbox and responding to e-mails. At home, I will focus on 1 meaningful project per week, spreading tasks out over weekday evenings and weekends. (I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam completely changed how I look at my week, highly recommended.)

I PROMISE TO CREATE MORE. I want to create new friendships and strengthen existing relationships. I want to create more blog posts. I want to create art. I want to complete my friend’s wedding scrapbook album.

I PROMISE TO SCROLL LESS. I hope this means spending less time on Instagram, BlogLovin’, Pinterest and Facebook. I hope this means reading more books. I hope this means listening to more podcasts. My promise to scroll less is closely linked to my desire to create more and learn more.

I PROMISE TO LEARN MORE. I want to expand my skills and knowledge in marketing & business development, strategy, innovation, arts, design and history.

I PROMISE TO SPEND LESS. I want to stop buying stuff that are just good to have or nice to have. I will first save before spending every month.

What have you promised for 2016? What have you promised to bring to the next 11 months?

Food & Drinks Growth Singapore

Tea Chapter & “How to Fly a Horse”

December 6, 2015

Usarin and I meet once a month for our book club – we pick a new book at the beginning of each month, and, depending on our schedules, meet either on the last Saturday of that month, or the first Saturday of the following month, to share our thoughts and discuss key lessons from the book.

Our book in February was “How To Fly A Horse” by Kevin Ashton. (Yes, this post comes to you a little later than intended.)

Before I delve into a review and summary of this great book, first a little about the venue we chose for our book club meeting.

We decided to venture away from our usual “Western cafe” haunts to a traditional Chinese teahouse in Outram Park. Although Tea Chapter has been around since 1989, making it one of the oldest teahouses in Singapore, this was my first time here, and I’m sure it won’t be my last!

Tea Chapter Singapore

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Growth Personal

27 Things I Learned In 27 Years

November 29, 2015

27th Birthday Cake

I turned 27 in July. This means I’m officially passed my mid-20s, but not yet in my late-20s. This is a strange age to be at, and it feels exciting and terrifying all at once. I’ve learned a few things along the way, wanna know what I know?

1. It really doesn’t matter what you study in university/undergrad.

Most of my friends are at jobs unrelated to their major, and most of my colleagues (who are in their late-30s/40s/50s) can testify to that too. What does matter? The internships you do, your attitude and work ethic, your interpersonal skills, and your willingness to learn.

2. Maintaining relationships is an active process.

Facebook, Skype and instant messaging apps on our smartphones make staying in touch with old and international friends easy, but only if we want and make the effort to. We should be more proactive in maintaining and fostering those meaningful relationships. Don’t wait for them to call you. Don’t think it’s weird to text someone out of the blue. Just do it because you thought of them. Think of a small adventure that you can go on or do together, call him/her/them up and go for it!

3. Making new friends gets tougher, but it’s possible.

Go to places where like-minded people hang out. Have the guts to initiate a conversation with someone new at parties, at a restaurant, or even on a plane.

4. Heels were just not meant for every women.

Shoes are meant for walking. There is no reason for wearing absurd, uncomfortable heels that I can’t dance, jump, run (to cross the road before the light turns green) in.

5. Having inner expectations are more important than meeting external expectations.

As the eldest sibling in a Chinese family, I’m no stranger to external expectations. Expectations from others will continue all through our lives, and it’s up to us to decide if we want to meet them and why. More importantly, we have to set expectations for ourselves based on our personal values. I find meeting my inner expectations more meaningful and purposeful, and I’m prioritising it over the expectations of others. While friends are getting married and having kids (all over Facebook), that’s not a priority for me now and not an external expectation I feel compelled to meet.

6. Making money is easier than making up for ‘missed’ memories.

OK, making money is not that easy, but it is easier than having to make up for missing an important event with family and friends. Some milestones are never the same if you miss it the first time. Don’t work overtime and miss the birthday celebration of a loved one. Don’t bail on dinner with your friends to get more work done. Don’t miss your sister’s graduation ceremony for a work trip overseas.

7. You can find common ground with just about anyone, anywhere.

Smiling and asking them questions to get to know them better is the easiest way to get the ball rolling. You’ll be amazed by how quickly people open up to you.

8. Learn how to live well within your means.

I don’t keep track of my monthly expenses on a spreadsheet, but I do make a budget and stick to it – 20% life necessities (food, transport), 15% insurance, 10% education loan repayment, 10% fun/gifts, 25% savings/investments, 20% retirement (a.k.a. compulsory CPF in Singapore). One of the many perks of living in Singapore is that it’s socially-acceptable to be an adult and still live with your parents; most of us only move out when we get married, so rent is a huge expense that I don’t have to worry about right now. Also, pay off credit card bills every month.

9. It’s perfectly alright to not have the answer to everything.

If you don’t know, ask. Ask someone. Ask Google. Ask Siri.

10. Fake it until you make it.

Acting like you know what you’re doing, until you really know what you’re doing, is important because people want to feel confident that they are working with the right people. But if you really have no idea what you’re doing, ask (see above).

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