If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly…

cigonifeIt all started with the "36 questions". Jamie and I were driving back from San Jose to San Francisco. Still suffering from jet lag, i was getting increasingly sleepy. We decided to answer the ’36 Questions’ to help me keep awake. One of the questions was – “If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?" I realised that there was not much that I would really change about how I would live my life. But one thing came to mind – I would definitely write more. I kept a written journal while growing up. And as technology advanced, I kept a blog. Heck, I even learned HTML just so that I could start a blog. I blogged for a while, but as work and life caught up, blogging has turned into a monthly and now (yikes!) an annual affair when I write my Annual Report – a recap of the year that has passed. I no longer find time to write, other than updating my FB statuses. So I thought… maybe I should take up writing again. To document my life. To destress and unload. To share my lessons learnt. If you like to read what I have to share, bookmark my blog violetlim.com and do check in now and then. :)

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Turning 35: 10 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

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Turning 35 is a big milestone. I am officially middle age! :) Just like how I reflected when I turned 30, I decided to do a mini reflection now that I have turned 35.

Here are 10 things that I have learnt in the last couple of years.

1. You cannot find your passion. Your passion will find you. Just like any other wide-eyed idealistic youth, I wanted to travel the world, I wanted to find myself, I wanted to know what my passion is. I have learnt that as romantic as it might sound, one cannot find his or her passion by doing “Eat, Pray, Love”. When you have the right mindset, when you are ready, your passion will find you. When I first went into the matchmaking business, did I know 100% that this was my passion? Not really. It was after years of keep going at it that I eventually know that this is what I love doing, and want to continue doing.

2. You cannot be everyone’s friend. You cannot make everyone like you. My DISC profile is high D, high I. I love people. I crave for people’s approval. I used to get very upset when I think some people do not like me. I have even tried all sorts of way to please them hoping that by doing that, I can “buy their love”. I have learnt over the years that – if you were to have accomplished anything in life, you would have your supporters and detractors. Nowadays, I am happy and contented to have a small circle of close family and friends who love me for who I am. And these are the people I know that I can always count on no matter what happens.

3. You should always tell the truth, and not try to be politically correct. When I first started out, I always try to be politically correct. I would sugarcoat my statements. I was afraid that if I were to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth, I might hurt others, or I might get complaints. I have come to realize that, it is always better to tell it as it is. People appreciate it when you are sincere, genuine and authentic. Even though the truth might sting, most of the times, they already know it. And they were just waiting for someone to affirm what they know. By being politically correct, we are actually not helping them at all.

4. Happiness is a choice. I have learnt that happiness is the gap between expectations and reality. The closer the gap, the happier one would be. Sometimes, we might not be able to change our circumstances. However, we can always change our expectations. Often, by just making a small tweak to our perspective, our life will be so much happier and rosier. Do not wait to be happy. Do not put your happiness into the hands of others. Choose to be happy. Today. Now.

5. Sometimes it is better to be smart than to be right. I have a strong sense of justice. I have strong principles. Most of the times, I am an easy-going person. Friends might even feel that I do not have much opinion.  I let people get their way on matters that are not important to me. But when it comes to matters of principle, I stand my ground and rarely budge. However, over the years, I have learnt that sometimes, it is better to be ‘smart’ than to be right. By giving way, by taking a step back, there would be more long-term benefits for all parties concerned, why not? I have learnt (still learning, honestly) to put my ego aside for the greater good.

6. Let go, let God. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. (Psalms 37:5) I have learnt to make plans and commit all my plans to Him. There is no reason to fret, to worry, to be anxious. When the time is right, He will bring it to pass. Since I have started to let go, let God, my life has become a lot simpler, calmer and more peaceful.

7. Leadership is a learned skill. The more you practice, the better you get. I used to worry a lot that I am a bad manager, a bad leader. I swung from being my team members’ best friend, to becoming a tyrant. Obviously, both did not work out very well. I have realized over the years that other than a few lucky ones who are born leaders, for the rest of us, it is about learning and practicing. Read books on leadership and management, practice the concepts and get feedback from others. And one day, you wake up to realize that you have become a much better leader! :)

8. When you forgive, you are not doing someone else a favour, you are actually doing yourself a favour. People will wrong us, and we will wrong others. Some do it out of spite and malice; some do it without even knowing and realizing it. We can hold a grudge forever, or we can choose to forgive. I initially found it very hard. Why should I forgive when I am not in the wrong? Why should I forgive when the person has not even apologized? And when I finally mustered the courage to forgive, I realized how much lighter and better I felt. Negative energy weighs us down. By learning to forgive, we free ourselves from emotional baggage and bondage.

9. When you take others’ feedback, it is not acknowledging you are not good enough; you are merely listening and learning from someone else’s point of view. I used to hate getting feedback. Of course, in front of the person giving me the feedback, I would smile and nod, but internally, I am screaming for the person to stop! I realized that I hated feedback because I felt that people are putting me down, and saying I am not good enough. But now, I realized that, feedback is just feedback. Take the good points, and discard the bad. And ever since that, personally, I have grown leaps and bounds, and the business has also been on an upward trend.

10. Life is not a sprint; it is a marathon. Went to Corum’s track and field championship the other day, and was watching the boys run. For the younger boys, they would keep looking beside and behind them, trying to see if anybody is catching up. And in life, that’s normal. Many of us will at some point or other be trying to ‘catch up with the Joneses’ – who has the bigger house, who has the more expensive car, whose kids are doing better? I have learnt that sometimes you are ahead, sometimes others are. But actually, that’s not really the point. The point is – are you a better version of yourself today, compared to yesterday? I have learnt to pace myself. Step by step.

There is still a long road ahead. :)

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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2014: A Year of Abundant Blessings

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Another year has just gone by. The last month, the last week and the last day of 2014. And here I am, doing what I have been doing for the last 11 years, sitting down and taking stock of the year has just passed. :)

As I prepare to write my annual report, I read through all my previous annual reports, and many of them brought a smile to my face, and some made me tear. I reviewed the goals that I have set for this year, I read through all my monthly forum updates and note the key events that have taken place throughout the year.

One thing for sure – 2014 is a year of abundant blessings.

Business

2014 – we celebrate 10 years in business. All the 3 business goals that I have set have been accomplished. We expanded to a new market after so many years. We forayed into the world of mobile dating apps. And, for me, the momentous achievement is… having successfully grew more than 50% this year, we hit a new revenue milestone for the business! I am so so proud because we achieved the BHAG that Jamie and I set for the company in Dec 2011. At our year-end management retreat then, I made my entire management team stand up, put their right hand up and pledge, “Today is 31 Dec 2014. We are a $XXX company.” At that point, I think many of my associates thought I was crazy, and felt that they have no choice but to say it since I am the boss. It was a target that seemed out of reach, it was a target that seemed almost impossible, it felt insurmountable.

Today, 3 years later on 31 Dec 2014, by God’s Grace, we did it!

The power of the BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal. The power of my dream team. My cupids & transformers, I love love love you. Without you, we would not have been able to #makeithappen!

Personal

2014 was a year of physical challenge. My forum mates and I decided to scale the tallest mountain in South East Asia – Mount Kinabalu. I am not sure what possessed our group of 8 ranging from 29 to 52 years old to take on this task. It started out as a joke, but it became a reality in May. Being one of the most unfit in the group, I trained by climbing the tallest hill in Singapore – Bukit Timah, which if you think about it is quite a joke because Bukit Timah is 164m and Mount Kinabalu is 4095m!!! I was extremely nervous before the climb. My forum mates were my pillars of strength as we forged ahead. There were times when I felt really tired and exhausted, wondering why I was doing this. They cheered me on, encouraged me and sang hymns with me nearing the summit. We were rewarded with the most beautiful sunrise as we conquered the summit. And it was all worth it.

And as if that was not punishing enough, I decided to sign up for a full marathon (42km), another challenge inspired by one of my forum mates, Annie. Knowing my personal limits, I engaged a running coach – Coach Ram. We trained for 6 weeks – starting first with 8km, and progressing to 30km. It was hard, it was grueling. There were many times I wanted to quit. There were many days that I did not want to wake up for my runs. But I began to realize that running a marathon is like running a business. There are tough days. there are challenges, but if you just keep at it and never give up – all the training, all the drilling, all the pushing… one day, it would all come together. And that was what happened. On race day, I managed to run non-stop for 10km!!! There was a time, I could not even run 1km without stopping. Even though, due to race technicalities, I did not manage to run the full 42km, I have resolved to complete my 42km race in 2015.

It has been 10 years since Jamie and I went on a humanitarian trip. Inspired by yet another forum mate, Liz, we decided to join her on her annual Global Clinic trip to Ladakh. It is hard to believe that such a beautiful place exist in this world. During our short stay, we set up a mobile eye, dental and women’s clinic and we served thousands of local folks. It was a blessing to be able to reach out and touch another’s life. And in return, we ourselves are touched. As we drove through the peaks and valleys in our small little van, and as the experienced driver maneuvered through the sharp bends, one thought was constantly on my mind. I looked at the simple houses, the sparse villages against the stately landscapes. Yet, the children always had a smile on their faces. And as we pursue success, we pursue wealth, we push ourselves, we push our children. Are we truly happy? In that short trip, I realized that… we actually needed so little to be happy. Happiness is the gap between expectation and reality. The smaller it is, the happier we will be.

Family

Next year, Jamie and I celebrate our 10th year wedding anniversary. We have had our ups and downs, our trials and tribulations, but one thing remains – he’s God sent, and he’s the best thing that has happened to my life. Nobody knows me as well as he does. Nobody challenges me as well as he does. Because of his love, his support, his encouragement, he makes me a better person, year after year.

Corum and Cara are growing up fast. Having grown up being very close to my parents, I worry constantly that I am not spending enough time with them with my different passions and commitments. I thank God for helping me make time and prioritize. I have successfully had monthly dates with them – spending time with them individually – doing things that they enjoy. I learnt from my good friend Moonlake to work around their schedule rather than working them around mine. It is not easy, but I am consciously working on it to make it work. Corum is becoming more and more like daddy – serious and quiet, loves history, science and Minecraft. He’s a thinker, a daydreamer and he is becoming quite a strategist. And when it comes to friendship – it is not the quantity but the quality that counts. Cara at 5, never ceases to amaze us with her entrepreneurial spirit. She is spunky, she is determined, and she is extremely loyal to those she loves (especially her kor-kor). She loves all things pink and purple, Hello Kitty, My Little Pony, and baking!

I feel that God has given us a big test this year. And if it is indeed a test, I hope we have passed it with flying colours. We have been asked to separate our Christian values from our working lives. And that set off alarm bells in our heads, because we set up this organization to do God’s work, to glorify His name and to make a difference in people’s lives. We said no. God has been extremely faithful. Every time we prayed, He has answered. He has been our guiding light in our decisions, big or small. Jamie and I have been deeply inspired by the movie Facing the Giants.

Our favourite quote – “And if we win, we praise Him. And if we lose, we praise Him. Either way we honor Him with our actions and our attitudes.”

I must thank my parents, in-laws, extended family and helper for your endless support and helping me to live my dreams. My best friend Tsiao Yi for your 20+ years of friendship. My Top Ten Forum Mates who challenged and inspired me to greater heights. My many mentors who have advised me and shared with me their experiences so generously and unconditionally. My associates at #LunchActuallyGroup for believing in me and making my dream come true. Corum and Cara for bringing sunshine, rainbow and happiness into my life. And to my one true love Jamie, words cannot express my gratitude. I love you.

2014 has been a momentous year. I have laughed, I have wept. I have fallen, I have learnt. Thank you for being part of it! Happy New Year, and may you and your family be blessed with much love, laughter and happiness in 2015!!! :)

Love,
Violet

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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13 Lessons Learnt in Year 2013

Welcome-2014-Bye-Bye-2013-Wishes-WallpaperAs 2013 draws to a close, as part of my annual ritual, I sit down at my desk at home to reflect on the year that is coming to pass. 

2013 has been an eventful year. There have been many ups and downs, many joys and disappointments. Perhaps even more, there are so many lessons that I have learnt.

Here are my top 13 lessons this year…

~ Personal ~

1. Stop Working on Sundays. Work will NEVER end. Friends have commented previously that I seem to be online all the time. This year, I realised that no matter how hard I work, work will always be there. The emails will not stop coming in, the projects will not stop streaming in. And hence, this year, I decided to stop working on Sundays. I never thought it was possible. I even felt guilty initially as I thought that work will pile up since I am working one day less. What I have realised is, actually by giving myself fewer working days, it actually forces me to more efficient with my time, and plan my time better!

2. Health is Wealth. I have fallen really sick twice this year. My lower back is giving me problem. My bunions are growing bigger. I am putting on weight. And I am only 33. I need to look after myself better. I need to eat healthier and spend more time exercising. Because, at the rate I am going, I am running down my body. And all the money, accolades and achievements in the world mean nothing, if I cannot live a healthy life. I have to be more disciplined with my personal training as well as my eating habits.

3. It is Important to Reflect and Sharpen My Saw. As much as I try to make time for myself regularly, I find that I do not have a lot of me-time with having to juggle family time with business and other commitments. I started to feel down and my energy being sapped away. This year, I have started the habit of setting aside a day every month to just read, relax and reflect. My PA knows this as my 'Read & Think Day' and does not schedule any appointments on that day. New ideas started to flow freely again, and I come out of it feeling refreshed and recharged.

4. Who am I to Judge? This year, I have been privy to a lot of confidential information. And some of these information have been shocking (and some disturbing) for me.  The initial reaction like what most people would do was of course to judge. However, I realised that everybody have gone through different life experiences, and it is really not for me to judge their actions and decisions. And once I learnt to suspend judgments, I started to focus on how these revelations help me know and understand myself better – who I am, what I stand for, what my values are. And how I can make use of these knowledge to make a difference.

Family ~

IMG_63245. Charity Begins at Home. I never really understood what this saying truly means until recently. A lot of us spend a lot of time doing good for the community, for the world. We are willing to donate not just money, but also our time and also our patience. And sometimes, we forget that being kind, generous and compassionate is actually most needed at home. We are usually most critical of the people around us. We are usually most impatient with the people whom we love and love us. This year, I have made a conscious effort to be kinder, more compassionate and more patient with the people closest and dearest to me.

6. Our Children Wants Our 100% Attention when We Spend Time with Them. There has been endless discussions on Quality Time vs. Quantity Time. What I have come to realise is – our children need both. But most importantly, when we are with them, they want our 100% attention. No smartphones, no tablets, no daydreaming. I learnt this when I tried a 'management tool' with my kids after an evening out at the park. I asked them what were their '3 highs and 3 lows' of the day. For the biggest high, Corum said, "When you played ball with me!" and Cara replied, "When you brought me to watch the singing and dancing at the stage area!" This is a good reminder for me that being in the same room or space with them simply does not constitute spending time. It is about 100% engagement, 100% attention.

7. Family Rituals are Important. We started many family rituals this year. Family movie nights where we have pasta and pizza takeaway and watch a movie at home. Family meetings/conferences where we discuss family laws, holiday plans etc. Annual Family Holidays where we spend 24 hours together, just the 4 of us. These rituals have brought us closer as a family. It has also amazed me how much a 4 year old kid is actually capable of understanding and doing. At our final family meeting of the year which has taken place 3 hours ago, Corum and Cara have just set their 2014 Goals. :)

8. Our Parents are Not Getting Any Younger. Just recently, I brought my dad to get some insoles for his shoes as his feet are aching. He also told me that he cannot see the maps on GPS machine clearly. Like all little girls, while growing up, my daddy is my hero. He carries me on his shoulders when I was a toddler. He ferries me around in his car when I grew older. He has always been and still is looking after me. It is easy to take for granted that our parents will always be young, healthy and energetic. I now make a point to spend time to have lunch, dinner or even supper with my mummy and daddy… to have long and deep conversations with them when they are visiting us in Singapore or when I am back in KL. 

Business ~

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priceless gift. words of encouragement from my associates.

9. 1 to 1 time is Priceless. When we first started Lunch Actually, there were only 4 of us. Now there are 40+ of us. In the past, I would have daily conversations with everybody. Now, everybody is scattered in different offices and countries. Of course I communicate regularly with my direct reports. However, there are some of our associates whom I would have probably just spoken with at orientation and some small talk at company gatherings. After reading a book that says that lunches should be fully utilised, I have decided to have "lunch dates" with my associates. Once a week, I will have a one-to-one lunch with one of my associates where we can talk about anything they want – work, family, personal, goals, life etc. I got to know a lot of my associates a lot better – their aspirations, their family, their passions. I did not realise the impact of this initiative until I recently received a Christmas card from one of our associates. The card read, "You may not be around all the time, but you have no idea how much I do appreciate the 1-1 time spent with you over lunch. A boss who makes the effort to learn and know their associates better. I feel so appreciated and loved."

10. Work CAN be and SHOULD be Fun. Learning from my fellow entrepreneur friends at EO (Entrepreneurs' Organization), I implemented a company wide Daily Huddle where associates will come together to update each other on their daily goals and accomplishments. And we will end off with a Morning Dance. When we first started, my strategy team and I were apprehensive of the associates' reaction to the Morning Dance. Would they think we are crazy? Or would they find it too childish? Well, our team of Cupids & Transformers simply LOVE it!!! Thank God! :) When I shared with some friends in their 20s that we dance every morning at work… they were stunned for a second. And then, they started to ask, "Do you have openings in your company? Can we join?" :) This has made me realise that… work does not always have to be serious and uptight. Work CAN be fun, and SHOULD be fun. In fact, I always ask my associates, "Is work still fun?" Because we spend 8-9 hours a day at work, and when it becomes a drag to go to work everyday, maybe it is time to move on.

11. The Power of Empowerment and Autonomy is Simply Amazing. This year, we hived off one of our growing products and put in charge a COO and product manager to run it. They will seek Jamie's and my advice and counsel for major and critical decisions. Other than that, they are mostly on their own. I am personally amazed and astonished by the results that they and their team have produced in the last year. For entrepreneurs and managers out there, what I have learnt is… our people if given the right environment to grow and thrive, have a lot to give and contribute. What we need to do is to make sure that we are a 'multiplier' and not a 'diminisher'. Because under a leader who is a 'multiplier', teams are known to be 2 or more times more effective and productive. But if you have a manager who is a 'diminisher', people will actually 'dumb down' because they feel suppressed and are afraid to try new things and make mistakes. 

12. The Danger of Falling into the Trap of Self-Justification and… Complacency. Today, I am thankful that Lunch Actually Group is South East Asia's leading dating company with thousands of successful couples and marriages under our belt. Yet, if you were to compare our revenues to many other businesses out there, we are miniscule. Some people would say, "You cannot compare with others because your industry is a niche industry. You started out in a small region. Actually, you have done very well!" Do not get me wrong. I am all for being happy and contented with what I have been blessed with. However, I also believe that if I fall into the trap of self-justification, I would eventually become complacent and stop pushing myself to become a better businesswoman to improve the business, to extend the reach of our services. Being complacent does not serve me, my family, my associates nor the singles' lives whom we can touch through our company products and services. I have learnt that it is ok to whine and self-pity sometimes, but it is important to differentiate facts from excuses.

And to sum it all up, I have learnt to…

13. Let Go, Let God. There have been many mini-miracles that have happened in 2013 that I know can only be through God's grace. It has not been a year without trials and tribulations. There were times when we were lost, and not sure what to do. I thank God for walking alongside Jamie and I in the last year. I have learnt that we can make plans but our plans will only succeed when we commit them to Him. God has shown us that He has plans for us, and He alone can bring these plans to fruition for His reasons, in His timing.

If you are reading this, I thank YOU for being a part of my life. I have so many people to be thankful for this year.

thanks

A BIG thank you to: My hubby Jamie – my rock, my children Corum & Cara – my miracles, my parents – my harbour, my parents-in-law, my helper, my extended family – my amazing support system, my associates at Lunch Actually Group and Prizle.com – my inspiration, my EO forum mates and friends – my council of advisors, my brothers and sisters in Christ – my fellow disciples in Christ, and last but not least, my close friends – my sanity. 

To each and every of you, I pray that you and your family will have a blessed year ahead. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Love, Violet

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Is it Possible to Have Rewarding Relationships While Travelling for Work?

ihg internet surveyRecently, I had the opportunity to be part of an interesting project on a topic that is close to my heart and participated as a Relationship Expert to comment on the latest survey by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). It revealed that travellers miss their connection when they're abroad, stating that staying in touch with loved ones at home is of top priority. 
 
As a frequent business traveller, I would have to agree with this as I often find myself getting frustrated if I'm unable to access the internet from my hotel room to get in touch with hubby and the kids back home. The worst thing that can happen after a long and tiring flight is to find out that there's no Wi-Fi in the hotel room! My favourite channel to contact home is either through Skype or FaceTime, much like the rest of the Singapore respondents. I believe that when communicating with our loved ones back home, having a video call is more powerful than a simple text of Internet Message. With video calls, I get to see the kids expressions when I ask them how their day was, and I could even read them a bed time story! :)
 
What really touched me among the many findings was that… Singaporeans, being one of the world's the most frequent travellers, actually make it a point to check in with their loved ones daily!!! Singaporeans actually spend more time online (44 mins) talking to our family than those from Down Under (17 mins) proving that the Asian value of 'family first' is still very strongly inculcated in us in today's day and age.
 
At the end of it, it became very apparent to me how important internet connectivity is for business travellers, like myself, to maintain relationships with our partners and kids when abroad. It is great that hotel groups like IHG with hotel brands such as Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Express and InterContinental offer free internet world wide for members of the IHG Rewards Club, a loyalty programme where you may sign up free of charge!
 
So if you are a frequent business traveller like me, you might want to check them out! :)
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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Finding Love in the Right ‘Places’

love magnifying glassIt was time to meet up with our financial consultant to review our insurance policies. Hence, hubby asked if I could help to locate the insurance file to bring along to the meeting. The funny thing was, for some reason, hubby thought that the documents were in a black file. So, he kept asking me to look for a black file. I searched high and low for that elusive black file. 20 minutes later, I still couldn't locate it. Was starting to get rather frustrated. For some reason, a white file on the shelf caught my eye, so I took it down. I opened the file, and voila! There were all our insurance policies!

I wanted to share this story with you because it occured to me that this is what is happening to many singles out there. We keep a checklist. We have a long list of criteria of what we are looking for. He must be taller than me. She must be beautiful and slim. He must be smart and earning a decent income. She must be intelligent yet not aggressive. He must have a sense of humour. She must know how to cook. And the list goes on. We set parameters in our mind on what we are looking for in our perfect partner. And hence, when someone does not seem to fit into the mould we are looking for, without even giving the person a second chance or glance, we swiftly move on.

Because we are so focused on 'what we think is the perfect one', we miss out on THE perfect one. Just like how I almost never found my file.

I am not saying, "Lower your standards!". I am not saying, "Don't have any parameters!" What I am saying is… be more open minded. When you have too many filters, you are limiting your chances. He might be 170cm when you wanted someone who's 175cm. But honestly, 5cm ain't not going to make a huge difference in the long run. He might not seem like the funniest guy in a crowd. But when you get to know him better, he might make you laugh with his corny jokes. She might not be Ms. Universe, but she has the biggest and most beautiful heart. She might not know how to cook, but both of you could bond through some gourmet cooking lessons!

I am glad I have located my file, by looking in the right places. I hope that by reassessing your criteria and parameters, you too will find your perfect someone soon.

Happy Dating! :)

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Did You Miss Me? :)

im-backAm honestly shocked at myself that I have not blogged on this blog for 5 months. I think this has to be the longest record. Well, I have not completely stopped blogging as I have been blogging for the website ‘Maybe Baby’ for the last couple of months.

What have I been up to?

Have been doing a lot of travelling in the last couple of months. In these 5 months alone, have actually been to the United States twice, once to Las Vegas and the other time to New York. Both were work trips but Jamie and I managed to squeeze in some time for sightseeing. One of the most awesome experiences I have had this year is visiting the Grand Canyon on helicopter when we were in Las Vegas. Jamie and I have never been to Grand Canyon and we have never ridden on a helicopter before. So it was a double first! The view was simply breathtaking and words simply cannot describe how amazing the Grand Canyon was!!!

On the family front, Corum has started Primary 1 this year. I was quite apprehensive about him starting school as I was worried if he could fit into the local education system, which is generally about lots of drilling and homework etc. Corum is generally a creative and inquisitive boy. He loves to learn but he learns by following his interests. Hence, a classroom-based learning environment might not be the best way forward for him. Well, I must say after my initial anxiety, I am relieved that he is enjoying school so far. True to their word (the school), the Primary 1 kids really do not have to bring home homework every day. The school’s philosophy is to slowly ease them into the primary school. Whatever they are doing, it’s working!

On the business front, we have been expanding our team as well as the reach of our product lines. We are excited about our upcoming plans and developments. This year also see to be a record year of couples getting together and getting married. We receive good news from our couples every week! And it is definitely a morale booster for the team, knowing that we have made a difference in our clients’ lives and contributing to their lifelong happiness!

That’s really a quick update from me. Hope to blog more and share more of what I am working on with you real soon.

Meanwhile, have a great weekend ahead, and Happy Dating! :)

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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2012: My Year in Review

 

Reviewing the goals that I have set for 2012, I have achieved 80-90% of the personal goals that I have set under the categories of Faith, Relationship, Family, Business and Personal Development. However, I have failed miserably in the Health and Friends categories. Nevertheless, looking back at the year 2012, I will remember it as one of the best years in my life thus far.

Knowing God, Serving God

One of the things that I have always wanted to do since becoming a Christian is to study the bible. However, I have never been able to read the bible diligently until a good friend of mine introduced me to Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), where you meet with a group to study the bible for 32 weeks. I never thought that I would be able to commit due to my frequent travel, as there is an attendance policy. However, with the encouragement of my group leader, I persevered and completed my first year of BSF. I am so glad that I have taken my first step to studying the bible and knowing God’s words.

As I have received abundant blessings, I wanted to give back through a ministry. Hence, when there was a ‘recruitment drive’ for Sunday School teachers, I prayed on it, and decided to volunteer. I have met so many amazing brothers and sisters in Christ that are serving passionately in the ministry, and I am so blessed to be able to be part of the lives of the delightful K1 kids (5 years old) that I teach at Sunday School.

12 Happy Years and Counting

In 2012, two of my close friends’ marriages broke down. I am very saddened and shocked by the news. I know that divorces are on the rise across the world, but somehow, I thought that my circle of friends would somehow be shielded from these statistics. But this was not to be.

Jamie and I celebrated our 12th year of knowing each other, and 7th year of marriage in 2012. And as couples get more familiar with each other, it is inevitable that they begin to take each other for granted. Like most married couples (despite popular beliefs), Jamie and I do have our ups and downs, and our fair share of disagreements and arguments.

We have learnt from a wise man that we should put our marriage as the number one priority in our lives. Our marriage must come before our children, our extended family, our business, and our personal goals… With that view in mind, we have learnt to resolve our arguments by putting away our egos, and saying sorry even when sorry is the hardest word.

One of my goals for 2012 was to have weekly date nights with hubby. And this is a session we look forward to every week where we ‘pak toh’ (date) and enjoy each other’s company be it through a dinner date or a movie date.

Focus on the Family

Even as Singapore and many of the first world countries battle with declining birth rates as more people are getting married later and delaying parenthood, I often say to Jamie, “Why would anybody not want to have kids?” So much so, I am starting to sound like a broken record. The truth is… Corum and Cara have brought so much joy into my life, our lives. 

They wake me up in the morning with their happy chattering. They make me laugh with their corny jokes. They give me hope for the world with their lofty aspirations. And they warm my heart with their unconditional love. Watching them grow up is one of the most satisfying journeys of my life. I am so very blessed to be given a chance to experience motherhood and I thank God every day for our two very wonderful children. 

Many people were astounded when they find out that Jamie and I live with his parents, his grandmother, his elder and younger brother and his elder brother’s family. We have four generations living under one roof – a rarity in today’s society as more young families choose to live on their own. Friends were even more amazed to find out that we actually get along! Hence, I am so glad when my sis-in-law suggested that we start a family prayer group earlier this year. It has been an amazing experience praying for each other and our other family members, and we have grown even closer as a family.

The Love Business

We celebrated our 8 years in business this year. We have set extremely ambitious targets for 2012, and I am so proud of my team that despite some challenges and setbacks along the way, we made it!!! We have received many wedding invitations, gifts and presents from our happy clients. And it is so incredibly heartwarming to know that we have made a difference in our clients’ lives and we have had a part to play in their lifelong happiness. 

2012 was also the year we came onto the TV screen sponsoring our first dating show “Love in Progress” and launching our first TV commercial! As this was our first foray into TV, we definitely still have much to learn. Nevertheless, it was an amazing feeling to have taken this first step to educate and change mindsets.

Our team of Cupids & Transformers has expanded exponentially over the years, and I am so thrilled that we have found so many dedicated individuals who are passionate to join our cause to help singles find love!

Learning and Growing

I have joined the Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO), a worldwide organization with 122 chapters in 35 countries. It is truly an enlightening experience getting to know other fellow entrepreneurs, and learning from their triumphs as well as failures. It is also reassuring to know that I am not alone in facing the multitudes of challenges and heartaches that most if not all entrepreneurs have to go through.

Health is Wealth

I know that it is important to stay healthy to keep up with my dreams and my lifestyle. I need to be more disciplined to achieve these goals in 2013. And I am glad that I have found a form of exercise that I enjoy very much, and it is sustainable. My new-found solution? Dancing on Xbox Kinect! J 

Good Friends Make The World Go Round

I have been blessed with many good friends throughout my life. As we grow older with more work and family commitments, the time that I am able to catch up with friends has diminished. I have not been as good at keeping in touch as I would like. Hence in 2013, I have set an objective to reconnect with at least one old friend every month.

If Only We Believe

One of the highlights of my year 2012 had to be being invited onto Malaysian radio station 988FM as a talk show guest. I have been an invited guest at various radio stations but this was particularly special because I grew up listening to 988FM. Never in my wildest dream as a teenager did I think I would one day be an invited guest to share my views and expertise on my favourite radio station. 

Which reminds me… our greatest enemy is often ourselves. We can be whoever we want to be. We can achieve whatever we want to achieve. Nothing can stop us. If only we truly believe.

Thanks Be to God

I am thankful for my achievements as well as the setbacks I have encountered in 2012. I am thankful for the many media opportunities that I have been given to encourage singles to take their first proactive step to find love and happiness. I am thankful for my hubby who is my anchor and my rock, my parents who love me unconditionally, my wonderful children who keep me grounded and sane, my ever-supportive extended family, my very helpful domestic helper, my most amazing team at Lunch Actually Group and all my loving and encouraging friends. 

I am looking forward to 2013. The best is yet to be.

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Love in Progress《爱。进行中》Ep 5: Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid

Episode 5 must be one of the most-discussed episodes to date. The episode has been discussed heatedly by netizens, and even featured on local newspapers.

The key reason?

One of the female contestants, when asked about her dating preferences criteria, mentioned that money is very important to her and money gives her a sense of security. She also stated that she would prefer that the guy earns at least $6000 a month. This has created an instant uproar. Netizens started slamming her for being materialistic. I even received calls from the press to ask me about my opinions on this issue, which I will share more later in this post.

From left to right: Sharon, Jia Xuan, Chen Wei, Vincent, Lance, Ben

There are some interesting lessons that I have picked up from this particular episode.

1. It pays to be gentlemanly. Out of the three guys – Vincent, Lance and Ben, Ben is the one who comes across as most gentlemanly and chivalrous. He would pull out the chairs for the ladies, ask them what they would prefer to drink etc. Guys, even though some might think chivalry is dead, from this show, it is obvious that old school charm does have a part to play. Ultimately, Ben was chosen as one of the two finalists, and eventually became the winner.

2. Do not become too comfortable too fast. Jia Xuan, one of the female contestants is a bubbly, outgoing and straightforward girl. She is very much what I would say is "what you see is what you get". In the initial getting to know you session, she ended up bringing up both her legs, and sat on the sofa as if she's lounging at home. It is good to be authentic and genuine, but we do need to keep certain decorum on a first date.

3. Women like men who take charge. During the rope-jumping segment, Vincent really stood out as he immediately took charge of the situation by allocating job scopes. This was very helpful in this segment, as it was being timed. Many a times, many groups will just stand around and wait for someone to take charge and end up wasting time. What was really remarkable was that he did it in a way that showed his decisive nature yet did not come across as ordering people around. 

4. Speak your mind to be noticed. One of the reasons Lance lost out was because he did not seem to have an opinion. Generally, he is more introverted and quiet compared to the other 2 guys in this episode. However, he should have capitalised on the Q&A session to chalk up some brownie points. However, during the Q&A session, on 2 separate occasions, he just said that he agreed with what Vincent has said, and offered little of his own thoughts and opinions. We do not need to have strong opinions on every single thing. But we do need to have our own opinions, and we need to share them so others get to know us better.

5. Always be prepared for a first date with a 'cheat sheet'. Both Vincent and Ben are comfortable conversing in crowds. They are funny, they are witty and they are popular. However, during the one-on-one date, they both seemed nervous and at times there were some awkward silences. The reason is probably they both liked Chen Wei and they wanted to make the best impression impossible (and not screw up!). As a result, they seemed more self-conscious than they usually are. In these circumstances, I would suggest that guys prepare some interesting icebreakers, openers or even topics that they can fall back on when their palms start to sweat.

6. Head vs. Heart. Based on the various scenes captured on TV, it is evident that both Chen Wei and Vincent are smittened with one another. The shy sidelong glances, their body language, the way they spoke about each other… I think many must be surprised when Chen Wei chose Ben over Vincent. She probably chose with her head and not with her heart as she rationalized that Vincent is out of her league. I am not saying that Chen Wei has made the wrong choice when she chose Ben. Because, it might well be the right decision. However, I think it is important that we have enough self-confidence to know what we want and work towards it. In love and relationships, there is no guarantee that if you work on it, you will get your desired results. However, if you do not even try, then you are going to fail for sure.

Personal Story: When I first got to know Jamie, the right thing to do was probably not to pursue the relationship. He was sending me all the signals that he was not ready to start a relationship since he was graduating in 3 months' time, and I still had another year to go. What that meant was we would end up in a long distance relationship when we do not even know each other too well. I am glad I followed my heart. We eventually got together, had a 2.5 years long distance relationship, and the rest they say is history. :)

7. Some things are better left unsaid (especially on a first date). Honestly, we all have our dating criteria and preferences. Men generally place a lot of importance on good looks and physical appearance. And women are generally looking for some one who is confident, carry themselves well and financially stable. We understand these biological attraction markers, and when we match at Lunch Actually, we would also look out for these criteria and match accordingly i.e. if the lady earns $75,000 per annum, we would not match her up with someone who earns $35,000 and below unless she has specifically mentioned she does not mind. The reason is, they probably come from very different backgrounds and circumstances and would usually not be very compatible (of course, there have been exceptions). However, for someone to spell it out so clearly how much they would like the guy to be earning, it is definitely a put-off for guys.

Some of our well-off guy clients have also mentioned that they do not want to be matched with ladies who have specified that they only want to date guys of a certain income range. The first question in their head will usually be, "Do you like me or do you like my money?"

Earning big bucks can definitely be a shared objective and common goal if money is important to you. However, to disqualify someone because he or she does not earn $6000 is not the best dating criteria in my opinion. 

Ultimately, the best matches are those where you share common values and common life goals. 

The contestants in Episode 5 are all young and good-looking. To watch this episode, click here for catch-up TV

Till my next episode commentary, happy dating! :)

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Love in Progress《爱。进行中》Ep 1: The Importance of Sincerity & Thoughtfulness

A few months ago, I was invited to be one of the 'consultants' on a local dating reality show. As I have heard so much about dating reality shows abroad, I was really interested and excited to be part of a local dating show. The show turned out to be 'Love in Progress'!

I will be featured as a dating consultant on 5 of the 10 episodes, where I will be giving dating tips and advice to the singles prior to their first date, as well as during the date. This is actually something that is fun for me, as we do not get the chance to observe or 'spy on' the dates that we arrange for our clients at Lunch Actually. In this filming situation, I actually get to 'eavesdrop' on the date, and give constructive feedback as we go along! 

I plan to give my comments and insights on each and every episode so that it would give my readers as well as the viewers who are single on how they can maximise their chances of finding Mr or Ms Right. As I am quite busy with work and business travel, my blog posts might not be as frequent as I would like them to be. Please do bear with me. :)

My First Impression of The Contestants

Madelyn: Her first appearance on the TV screen was quite striking. She was wearing the shortest dress among the the girls, and her dress is quite low-cut as well. Coupled with a confident strut, she comes across as a girl who knows what she wants. My advice: For ladies, it is better to go for a more feminine and elegant look for a first date. Revealing too much skin on a first date is not such a good idea as it might give the guy a wrong impression. It is good to be straightforward rather than beat around the bush. However, if the girl comes across as too aggressive and always needing to have the last say, guys would find that off-putting. Remember, you are on a date, not a debate.

Chanel: Chanel might not be the prettiest, but she came across as friendly and approachable. Her dressing is also chic and trendy. Even though it was an asymmetrical top that reveals her shoulder, it is not overtly sexy. My advice: It is not necessary true that the most beautiful girl will finish first, and the plain girl will finish last. So, if you have always felt like a plain Jane most of your life, do not dismay. Often, it is about being kind, friendly and having a ready smile. 

Siew Jing: Among the three ladies, Siew Jing comes across as the most gentle and feminine, which should work in her favour as men in generally prefer ladies who are not too aggressive. However, Siew Jing is so quiet in most of the show that she ended up being like a wallflower. My advice: First impressions are made in minutes if not seconds. It is important that you make a lasting impression to your date. You can either make a good impression, bad impression, or worse… no impression. You do not need to hog the conversation, but you do need to speak up to get noticed.

Zi Han: He came across as someone who is stable, matured and knowledgeable. As a guy, this is a good impression to convey on a first date as women like men who are driven and know where they are heading. My only gripe about Zi Han is his choice of shirt during the initial meeting. He was wearing a mustard yellow shirt that does not complement his skin tone at all. It made him look very sallow. My advice: One of the best investments we can make for ourselves is to find out the colours and styles that suit us best. The easiest way is to work with an image consultant. This does not only help us in our dating journey; it would also help us in our career as we would be making the best first impression every time.

Albert: At first glance, Albert seems like the most eligible out of the three male contestants. He is tall, he has a corporate look and he was dressed in a light jacket. (Note: Albert was eventually not chosen as the final two due to other factors.) My advice: I know that in Singapore and Malaysia, the weather is really hot, and we do not have a 'jacket culture'. However, men always instantly look smarter in a jacket, and just by putting on a jacket, you would be perceived as having a better career or have a higher earning potential. Hence, invest in a casual jacket that you can pair with your slacks or your jeans when the occasion calls for it.

Kok Liang: My first impression of Kok Liang is that he is rather skinny, and he tends to hunch. In terms of his dressing, his style is young and trendy. Generally, he comes across as someone who is very young and not very confident, which is not an advantage when it comes to dating. However, Kok Liang makes up for it by coming across as someone who is friendly, sincere and down-to-earth. My advice: For younger guys, you can appear more matured by choosing dress shirts that are thicker, wearing glasses or even just by changing your hairstyle. It is also about how you speak and the way you carry yourself. By speaking in a lower and deeper voice with a more measured pace, you instantly come across as more matured and confident. 

One-on-One Date: Chanel with Zi Han

I thought Zi Han's choice of gift for Chanel was really refreshing. Rather than just buying flowers or chocolates which are typical presents for a first date, he actually presented her with a Princess Barbie Doll in addition to a small bouquet. It was a brave move as some girls might not be into dolls at this age. But Zi Han made the right choice as Chanel absolutely loved it, and you must see her swoon when he said, "I want to treat you like a princess…"

Zi Han shared with me that he actually prepared a magic trick to surprise Chanel with. However, he did not manage to practise it as much as he would like to, and he was worried that he might make a fool of himself, hence at the end he did not show her the magic trick. 

My advice: Girls in general like surprises. We want to know that you have been thinking about us, and you are willing to make an effort to make us happy. When you buy presents, put some thought into it, just like Zi Han did. :) And also, girls are generally quite forgiving. I think Chanel would have appreciated the magic trick even if it had turn awry, because it is really the thought that counts. :)

One-on-One Date: Chanel with Kok Liang

Kok Liang made a good choice with the setting up of an outdoor date. From the beginning, you could see that both Chanel and Kok Liang were feeling very relaxed and happy.

I thought it was a bit corny that Kok Liang cut out the crust of the bread from the sandwich, and told Chanel that, "You eat the bread, and I will eat the crust…", but it actually worked! Haha! :) Chanel was actually really touched. I applaud Kok Liang as it is evident that he has put in a lot of effort into preparing for a 'mini picnic'. Kok Liang might not be as highly educated as the other two (he is an ITE grad), but his sincerity and his earnestness really shone through.

The theme of photography throughout the date was also a brilliant move. Chanel was all giggly and had lots of fun during the date as she wanted to learn more about photography from Kok Liang.

My advice: After the initial meet up, when planning your next date, do consider going for an outdoor date. It would immediately put both of you at ease, and you can also learn more about each other in a different environment. For guys, learn to play up your strengths or talents. Back to Kok Liang… during the date, he would share with Chanel about photography, and you could instantly see Chanel being more attracted to him as she saw him as someone who is knowledgeable and someone whom she could look up to.

So the big question is of course… who did Chanel choose at the end? 

Well, you have go watch the show to find out! :)

Click here to watch Episode 1 -> http://video.xin.msn.com/browse/catch-up-tv/love-in-progress#

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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