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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Not Just ANY Bag of Tau Gay


"Tau" means "bean"... and "gay" means "sprouts". In my feverish weakened state, the bag of bean sprouts caught me by surprise. It was a gift from a caring Mommy. She had explained to me how to use beansprouts to get back a lost voice. When she heard that I was both too busy and too sick to venture out to get myself a bag of bean sprouts, SHE marched out in the hot sun, queued up at the supermarket, bought me a bag and delivered it to my house. Then she left without disturbing my sleep.

I only got to know about the bag of vegetables last night when the family crowded around my bed to chat. I tried out her Beansprout Cure once last night and once this morning. My voice is coming back.

I begin to feel very blessed. 

One Mommy sat down to patiently listen to me rant one day. One Mommy has my health in her prayers every day. Then there is another Mommy that I shall call Mommy Thoughtful who wrote me a good long email on the types of food that produce phlegm. Another Mommy sewed me a stunning quilt... a quilt that must have taken her hours and hours and hours to piece together. Another Mommy thought of me when she visited a German Food Fair. I received from her these deliciously wafer-like whatchamacallit biscuits. Yum! Then there was a lady (whom I had never before seen) who came by and gave me a subtitled version of the popular Indian movie "Three Idiots"(starring the incredibly handsome Aamir Khan). It took her a while to FIND the subtitled version. This is not counting all manner of little handmade crafts and small wrapped presents (which I leave unopened so as not to spoil the pretty wrapping) and poems and oranges and cakes (home made and bought) and bottles of syrup that appear by magic on my kitchen table.

Home Made Quilt

Artisanal German Biscuits

I suppose this is as close as one can get to the kampong spirit in Singapore? Above and beyond what is a purely commercial transaction, people share of their hearts? I put my heart in what I do with the children. I care and I feel for them. In return, the Mommies give me a little of their hearts.

This said, I have met all sorts of people ever since I started Motivation Genome.

There are the rather mercenary minded people who think everything is a commercial transaction. They ask if I would do free talks in return for the opportunity to sell my books. I never do. I do give free advice and help. There are days when I labour 1 to 2 hours over an email to explain to parents whys and wherefores. On other days, I spend 1 to 2 hours with a particular parent chatting about their child. To other parents, I offer free places in my seminars and talks. In almost every run, there will be 1 or 2 people attending for free. When I do give things free, I do it of my own free will, for reasons that I know best and I ask nothing in return. It's like the tithe that is given out and back to the community. You give it, but not with mercenary gain in mind.

I'm not going to give anyone a free talk for the opportunity to sell my book. The book sells very well by word of mouth. I don't have to give out free goodies to sell a good book.

People I've never even seen call up and explain to me their problems in detail. Ostensibly, they want to sign up for parent coaching but what they're really hoping for is for me to let slip some small piece of advice that would help them along. I figured this out when the same Mommy called me up 4 times asking me to sign her up for coaching. Each time, I would share a little, and the Mommy would thank me... until the next time she needed some help again. After the 4th time, I got wise. 

Then there are those that think that their money handed to me is an excuse for bad manners and boorish behavior. I have one effective way to deal with people like that. I refuse to take their money and send their business somewhere else. You see, I put heart in what I do. When you mess with my heart, you might hurt it. No amount of money can compensate me for that, so I would rather NOT take your money.

This must be a very French way of seeing things. Traditional France has always been a collection of small businesses. The corner bakery or the neighborhood butchery or the village schoolhouse are all staffed by people who know you and your family from way back 5 generations. These are people proud of what they do and when you step into the shop, you had better mind your Ps and Qs... and treat these shopkeepers like people, not servants that you pay. Else, they'll ask you to buy your bread from the next village, which could well be 50km away. Waiters and waitresses are quite capable of NOT serving your table if you've been out of line. That's because they really care whether you like your food. Our waiters would ask worriedly if they saw that Little Boy didn't finish his pumpkin soup, and they would beam when they saw that he had finished his tenderloin steak.

Even if my business gets bigger... and my business will only get bigger if I can ensure the kind of quality that parents currently experience, I would want people to be kind and civilized with my staff. Part of what it takes to work for me is passion and a heart. It's not just about marking papers or facilitating sessions. The facilitators must care. Now, if my facilitators and markers CARE, then no one should be allowed to break their hearts. Besides, it takes a very long time to properly train markers and facilitators. Those that have had experience with MOE take twice as long to train because they do things the MOE way, which is not how we do things in Dr Pet's Enrichment.

Happily though... such people are few and far between. There are many more parents who are loving, gracious and considerate than there are parents who are mean. I love all my Enrichment Centre parents very much!

Alright! This post probably shows me up to be a very lousy businesswoman.

12 comments:

Blur Ting said...

Wow, what a thoughtful mommy! Actually what goes round comes around. You're a nice person you see, so everyone's nice to you too.

Blur Ting said...

I've had chance to read your post again slowly and I feel that for your kind of business, you make the perfect business woman. I like the way the French conduct their business as you've described. Sadly in Singapore, people do not feel passionate enough about their job and hence don't take pride in what they do. We need more people like you!

Petunia Lee said...

Ting - Hahaha! I sometimes don't feel nice at all. Around my area there are very nice eateries run as family businesses. They serve food that you can't get anywhere else. I would never dare be a diva in such eateries. I might not get to eat their food again!

Celine said...

:) on service is not servility. Hope you have recovered now.

You are easy to be kind to, hence people are kind to you. Especially the mommies who have entrusted their children to you, and you are helping to rebuild the little ones scarred in the unrelenting focus on acad success.

I will do anything for anyone who loves my boys (and show it). That is maternal instinct, no?

Petunia Lee said...

Celine - I have a mycoplasma infection of the larynx. Needs 10 to 15 days of antibiotic. Cannot go holiday anymore!!

Malar said...

So many thoughful mommies arround you!
Petunia, you're so kind and this is the return for your kindness! ;)

Petunia Lee said...

Malar - Yup! One sometimes cannot be too kind... or else one gets taken advantage of!!

Celine said...

Oh dear, that sounds serious! Take care and get well soon

Theanne said...

So sorry that you are/have been ill...but what wonderful tributes, to help you and make you happy, have been offered. You are the most excellent business woman I've ever known PetuniaLee(TM) :)

Petunia Lee said...

Theanne - No... really... I'm not at all a good business woman. I wish I were.

monlim said...

Hope you feel better soon! Isn't it great to meet such nice parents? Warms my heart when such lovely pple visit my blog too. I really can't tahan the mercenary types. When I blogged about my friend's stand-up paddling bizness, one had the audacity to ask her if she would give free sessions in return for a post on her blog (which was not even remotely related to sports!)

Why some Singaporeans are so ngian for free stuff, I'll never understand.

Petunia Lee said...

Yup... Monica... ngian is a good word.