3 questions I had before Davos (and the answers after)

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Last week, I went to Davos for the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting. It was my first time and I did not know what to expect. I did have a LOT of questions though. Some of my questions were quite trivial like “is it going to be crazy cold?”, “will there be rice somewhere?”, “will I cry every time I miss my baby?” and “do I have the right shoes for the event + snow + walking + dancing?”. Let’s get those out of the way. The answers were: no, yes, almost always, and yes!

Of course, I also had more substantial questions that have the potential to guide my decisions and actions for my life, work, and advocacy. Throughout the week, I was able to gather some answers and learn a lot.

Question 1: Will I be able to represent our artisans, advocacies, and country?

Answer 1:

YES! I was given the opportunity to speak in two sessions. The first session was about enabling E-commerce for small enterprises to become global players. I was part of a panel together with Jack Ma (Alibaba), Prime Minister Mercedes Araoz (Peru), and Director-General Roberto Azevedo (WTO), moderated by Richard Samans (WEF). And the second session was a dinner panel called “You Are What You Wear” where I was a discussion leader together with Stella McCartney, Ellen MacArthur, Stefan Doboczky, Valter Sanches, and Vincent Biruta, moderated by Hadley Gamble.

These sessions were planned (so well) ahead of time and though I prepared, I was still really wondering if a voice as small as mine representing artisans and communities will be heard in a stage as big as the World Economic Forum in Davos. Big businesses and policy makers meet in this place, discuss ideas on how to improve the state of the world, and for a few, even actually create collaborations that bring about systemic change. It was easy to feel small indeed! And let’s be honest here, we are small (and I don’t just mean my height). But this is not a bad thing. In fact, it is a great thing!

See, our being small allow us to see things from the ground and the grassroots where most of the people are. And when we talk about improving the state of the world, we cannot possibly forget the majority of the world.

For both the sessions I contributed in, I was probably the one closest to the grassroots. And I took that as a huge responsibility to magnify the needs from the ground and really represent the voices that need to be heard by the decision makers that affect their lives. This role was a bit daunting (fine, VERY daunting), but it was exciting and inspiring. A few days after the Annual Meeting, I was already in touch with industry leaders and luminaries who are interested to get our insights for policies and business decisions, as well as collaborate with us (more on that soon!)!

Question 2: What sessions / people will surprise me and make an impact on me?

Answer 2: 

There were a few sessions that I really enjoyed and learned from, but the most memorable ones were also the most painful.

I have been exposed to poverty almost all my life so it was easy for me to say that I have seen it all. It was devastating to be reminded that pain and suffering is still happening every single day in extreme situations that I could only imagine.

The first session that made an impact on me was the one where Cate Blanchett talked about her experiences and advocacy as a Goodwill Ambassador of the UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency). I was not expecting to hear the things I heard from the session. But maybe that was also because I did not set many expectations. Like many who signed up for the session, I was there in-part as an admirer of her work as an actress, and perhaps mildly interested in what she had to say about the plight of refugees around the world. I left the room incredibly touched by the stories she shared and challenged by how big the problems are. I realised something that I knew all along but forget sometimes: that we are all human beings, figuring things out together and trying our best to make sense of what we are capable of (both good and evil) and how we can be better or make things better for others.

That session foreshadowed another event that made an impact on me: A Day in the Life of a Refugee. Mark and I attended this during our last day (it was running for the whole duration of the annual meeting) and it put a lot of the things we learned, into perspective.

The program started with a simulation where the participants (us!) were assigned random “identities” that we will own while inside the 20-minute simulation. My identity was Suad Yehia, a 15-year old unmarried factory worker who is malnourished and have no assets to even buy food or medicine. During the 20 minutes, the participants experienced a morsel of what it is like to live as a refugee in camps around the world. After the simulation, we heard harrowing yet hopeful stories from past refugees themselves or aid workers working with refugees.

The Day in the Life of a Refugee experience was definitely memorable and eye-opening. I am strangely comforted that my experience working in poverty alleviation has not made me callous to the needs of others, no matter how disturbing or painful they may be.

It is easy to think that I am already doing my part and doing enough but the truth is, there is still so much to be done. And it is also easy to think that the problems of the world are too big and there is nothing we can do, when in fact, every single thing we actually do, matters.

To learn more about the program and how you can help, visit http://www.refugee-run.org/. And of course, closer to home, you can explore how you can contribute to different organizations that are creating solutions to various social problems such as hunger, homelessness, lack of quality education, and poverty, among many others.

Question 3: Who will be changing the world? And how can we create bigger impact together?

Answer 3:

Many people I have met in Davos are already changing the world and I know that more people will. For one, a of lot partnerships between social entrepreneurs (the community I am part of!) and key decision-makers are already in discussion, and I’m excited for the future because of these collaborations. When powerful decision-makers come together, big things can happen. But when powerful decision-makers come together with leaders who represent the powerless, good things can begin.

But this is just a small part of the big change that has to happen.

World-changing is not exclusive to the big decision-makers because if you really think about it, we are all decision-makers. The small or big decisions we make may seem inconsequential, but when we think through consequence number 100+ of our decisions, we’ll realise that they go a long way. World-changing is everyone’s business because… well, everyone lives in the world and we are all stewards of this only home we have so far.

It may sound like the biggest cliche ever, but it is still true that making the world a better place starts and continues with each one of us. And if we consolidate and coordinate our efforts even in small communities, the impact we can create will be far more than what we can do alone.

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Schwab Social Entrepreneurs!

And speaking of creating bigger impact together…  

As always, we are working triple time to build R2R as a global brand that artisans can rely on as a viable and sustainable partner to help improve their lives. We have been doing this for 10 years and through all the challenges and little wins, you, our advocates, have been with us. You cheered us on, supported us, gave us valuable feedback, granted us second chances (and more), and created positive impact with us all these years. And we know that like us, you are in this for the long-haul.

Because we are in this together, we are sharing with you some of the things we are working on to create more positive impact. And if you have any ideas or partnership possibilities you could direct our way, we would be most joyful and grateful!

Here are a few of the partnerships and possibilities we are searching for:

  • International distribution through retailers (could be boutiques, chains of boutiques, etc.) in key countries around the world – while we probably won’t be able to supply all immediately, it would be great to get connected to markets for our current as well as future capacity and communities!
  • Partnerships with corporations that can include us and our artisans in their supply chains! We have done one-off partnerships with brands we love (like corporate gifts, etc.), but if ever there are chances to partner with companies for the long-term too, that would be awesome!
  • Partnerships with global brands and designers who can collaborate with us to create amazing products and put a spotlight on what our artisans can do
  • Partnerships with social enterprises and artisan-supportive brands from all over the Philippines and Asia to join our platform www.thingsthatmatter.ph, which is a joyful marketplace that creates positive impact and inspires an intentional lifestyle.

Ideas? Connections? Exciting possibilities? We are so excited to hear from you! Send me a note: reese.fernandez@rags2riches.ph.

 

Reese Fernandez-Ruiz

Schwab Social Entrepreneur 2013

Young Global Leader 2012

World Economic Forum

14 Days with baby, with only a carry-on luggage

For those who have been following my Instagram and Instagram Stories, I hinted on writing about this trip and how I managed it with only a carry-on luggage (I know!!! haha). I LOVE packing and packing with intention – yes everything must be intentional – because it is a little systems challenge that has immediate results. But aside from that nerdy reason, I love packing this way because I get more peace of mind for my trip, I am more mobile, and I have less risk of losing my luggage (since no need to check in)! So many wins!

We just arrived a few weeks ago from a 14 day New Zealand trip for the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s YBLI (Young Business Leaders Initiative) program. But I also brought baby Miguel with me and of course, my husband Mark so he can take care of baby while I work and then we can go on to a mini vacation / road trip to Queenstown! I was so excited for this trip but I was also quite nervous because it was baby’s first plane ride (more than 10 hours of flying one way!) and Mark will be taking care of the baby alone most of the time.

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and in all fairness, Mark did an amazing job taking care of Miguel!!! Consider me SHOOKT and impressed!

So to calm my nerves, I decided to be a bit more obsessive about packing. haha I have awesome coping skills and I’m sharing my weirdness with all of you! Here are my 9 tips on packing light for a relatively more relaxed and a bit less backbreaking (literally) trip!

  1. Luggage and bags – I brought one carry-on luggage (that could be placed on the overhead compartment) with all my stuff, one R2R Maricel baby bag that fits under the seat in front of us for all of my pump stuff, Miguel’s food, change of clothes, vitamins, and bottles, and one small (but super roomy) R2R bag (more on that for number 5) for all my phones, chargers, make-up, and others.

    Bags!

    The little orange luggage is a carry-on, the black bag is the R2R Maricel Mommy bag, the Pack-it cooler folds and can fit inside the front pocket of the Mommy bag, and the bag to the right is my purse for the entire trip!

  2. Clothes! – Determine how many outfits you would actually need (considering the occassions, events, weather, etc.) for your trip and then divide the days by 2-4 (depending on the total number of days) to get the number of tops you would need and divide the days by 2-6 to get the number of bottoms. Okay, it is not as mathematical as that actually, but if you want to pack light, be very intentional and quite ruthless with cutting down on the “maybe I’ll need this” or “this is too cute to leave” piles. Since I have 14 full days and 7 of which are more business casual, I decided to bring 7 tops that can be dressed up or down as needed, and 3 pairs of pants (jeans + wide-legged trousers that can be dressed up or down too).
  3. Combinations of Clothes – Make sure that all your tops look great with all your bottoms. I LOVE this part because I really try out all the combinations!

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    Top from Pink Manila and bottom from Uniqlo

  4. Shoes – shoes are the most bulky and most delicate items to pack so I’m very particular about what shoes to bring and to only bring those that I will absolutely need and use. For this trip, since we have a baby on board (that’s another packing story for next time), I was extra ruthless with cutting down on my own things so I decided to choose only one pair of shoes for the entire trip, for all occassions. This part was HARD because the pair must be: comfy, casual, business-appropriate, weather resistant, pretty, and must match all the combinations of my clothes. Fortunately, a few days before our trip, we visited Dr. Kong in the 30th to get our feet assessed (my assessment was really dismal) and get some pairs of comfy shoes for the family. I honestly did not expect that the pair I saw and got would check all my boxes but it did! I expected Dr. Kong shoes to be comfy but not stylish because comfy and stylish don’t usually go together. But looook!!! Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
  5. Bags – another potentially bulky item unless you just want to go around in canvass bags. For this trip, I decided to bring just ONE bag that fits the shoes and fits all the combinations of clothes I brought. And this one bag (which is part of our Artefino collection called the Flora crossbody bag) is like a gift from Mary Poppins, it fits a LOT of stuff. Like here in this photo, this bag had a small notebook, pens, money, credit cards, keys, 2 lipsticks (Happy Skin of course!), hand sanitiser (Messy Bessy), 2 phone chargers, 2 phones, 1 power bank, sunglasses, and an extra t-shirt I got from the event. IMG_20170930_165059_592
  6. Toiletries – Transfer your toiletries to clear little 100ml bottles and put them all inside a zip bag. That’s pretty standard especially if you want to have no checked in bags (I don’t like checking in bags)
  7. Gifts – Choose gifts (to people you are visiting / people back home) that are flat, compact, or easy to shoot into the little cracks and slips between your clothes
  8. Another clothing tip – Choose clothes with fabrics that are easy to wash, dry, and wear, and won’t need to be ironed. This saved me a lot of time!
  9. Laundry – no judgement if you don’t plan to do laundry at all, but in case you want your clothes to be fresh again, plan for a laundry stop in the middle of your trip. Depending on the country you are visiting, chances are you can find laundry shops with washers and dryers you can use.

So there!!! I really had fun in this trip and the time I took to plan my packing was so worth it. I got to spend more time learning in the conferences and was able to spend time with family more!

What are your hacks and tips for packing light?

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WE’RE LAUNCHING THINGSTHATMATTER.PH ON NOVEMBER 2017

Hello!

About 10 years ago, we started R2R with Php 10,000, a group of hopeful social entrepreneurs, a small community of women artisans, and a huge dream. We wanted to create a fashion and design house empowering community artisans in the Philippines. We knew it was not going to be easy but it was going to be worth it. Fast forward to today, we now have 10 years of experience in building, failing, bouncing back, and building again.

While we are so joyful that a lot more are now creating inclusive supply chains and community-centered enterprises, we know that there’s still so much to be done. Bridging artisans to markets is easy; keeping the market interested is harder. Connecting designers to artisans iseasy; creating a culture of design in the artisan communities is much harder.

But the hardest thing to do is to build something that lasts. So we thought, why not share all the wins and mistakes we have learned along the way to more social enterprises, brands for a cause, community artisans, and small-scale producers? And the best time to do this is on our 10th anniversary this November 2017!

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Our team is so excited because, for the past few months, we have been building Things That Matter, a joyful marketplace that creates positive impact and inspires an intentional lifestyle. But it is more than just a one-stop shop for all beautiful and meaningful products. It is also a community of advocates who are creating a better world, one intentional decision at a time.

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We are overjoyed and excited to invite YOU to be one of the first advocates of Things That Matter! We are launching this November and when you sign up for our Things That Matter newsletter, we’ll give you Php 250 off your first purchase. Yes! Php 250 off for shopping for things that are beautiful, useful, and meaningful. Sign up here now.

Lastly, follow Things That Matter on Instagram and Facebook to know more about which social enterprises, brands, and communities we have on board and other exciting updates in the coming days!

 

In Good Company Podcast

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Oh hi!

So, after years of public speaking, I did not think I will still be quite shy about my voice (literally and figuratively) but I still am! haha There is a very compelling reason for me to finally come out and speak up. See, for the past few months, I have been searching, struggling, and scrambling desperately for inspiration and good news. Thankfully, I am quite fortunate to experience bits and pieces of hope and inspiration around me that I thought others should know about too! So I got over myself and decided to somehow share these stories through a medium that I am using to learn as well: podcasting!

A few months ago, Tom Graham and I met up, brainstormed, and shortly after, we started recording a podcast together called In Good Company. This podcast will explore the lives, careers, and advocacies of people who want to create positive impact in the world. Big words, I know. haha The journey of making this podcast has been already so inspiring and definitely quenched a little bit of my thirst for inspiration, so I hope more people can find inspiration through this as well!

We are launching this VERY SOON and we’ll announce the date in our Facebook Page: In Good Company Podcast. Don’t forget to like and follow for more details!

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I thought it would be easy

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Or at least easier than this.

But nothing worth it ever come easy, I should have known. For one reason or another, I thought that there will be some free passes and shortcuts because we were “doing something good”. And to be honest, there were times when we did. But when the hype declined and the real daily grind happened, the concessions we enjoyed because we were new, trendy, and “doing good”, also declined.

When we started R2R nine years ago (!!!), I was about a year out of college. It was a scary and exciting time because I chose a path that I did not fully understand and yet it fully occupied my thoughts and imagination. I loved the idea of becoming a social entrepreneur! It sounded new, exciting, smart, brave, and, for lack of a better term, “good”.

But 9 years has a way of untangling hubris and making things clearer. And I’m still going through a lot of untangling. A long time ago, I decided to write this whole process down and even keep some voice memos so that I’ll always remember.

So I am writing this entry more for myself than for you (whoever you are :)), so that I am always reminded of what truly matters. But if these help you too, that would be awesome!

If it is not yet obvious, I LOVE lists. haha So here is a list of the things I have learned. Because I’m writing this more for myself, it is the kind of honesty that I could take from myself: no holds barred.

I have learned that:

1) Livelihood is not just a project. If it is, it is not livelihood, it is a project. Working with community artisans is hard work and it is definitely not a feel-good endeavour. Not to say that it won’t feel good at all. It will! But if feeling good is a main motivator, you are so not going to last here.
2) Creating impact is more than just increasing income, it is about creating more opportunities constantly and consistently. Increasing the income of others is the easiest thing to do. The long-term impact that matters is not easy to do, but must be done.
3) If something is handmade and super cheap, someone else is paying for it. And it is not the customer or the business.
4) You will get lots (LOTS) of advice from well-meaning people and a lot of them will expect you to follow their advice especially when you asked for it. Sometimes, you’ll never know if the advice is good or bad until you try it. So now you know. haha #GAH
5) You’ll eventually make good decisions because you have learned from your bad ones. And even if you flip it and reverse it, the pain of these bad decisions led you to the good ones.
6) Practice curiosity. Sometimes you are an introvert but sometimes you use your introversion to be a snob. Know the difference. 🙂
7) Yes, you don’t have family money, the limbs of a supermodel, an angle-less face (in fact you only have one angle), a well-curated closet, or connections that will get you massive social media following, BUT you have your own currency. Listen to Amy Poehler:

“Decide what your currency is and let go of what you don’t have.” –

Amy Poehler, Yes Please 

8) You will feel insignificant in the face of the newest shiny things that look so bright and bold. But don’t lose sight of the long-term. Because…
9) It does not matter if you came here first and it does not matter who is the latest. What matters is endurance and grit in the face of challenges and yes, in the face of new shiny things.
10) If it is a business with purpose, it needs to continue to be a business (profitable, sustainable), for the purpose to continue. And this may sound easy, but it comes with the most painful, lose-your-sleep kinds of decisions.
11) The goal of your enterprise is not to be obsolete as a company but to make the qualifier “ethical” not necessary in the future because it is the only way to do things.
12) There is virtue in doing good quietly, but declaring a business model that is doing good has value in it too. When you declare something (good work, struggles, intentions, setbacks and all), you hold yourself accountable with the public as your witness. You will allow yourself to be visible, susceptible to criticisms yet at the same time become a source of inspiration.

I have an extra 90 minutes a day and this is how I spend them (my top 10 podcasts)

Well, not really “extra” as in I have 90 minutes more than others. I just realized, roughly 7 months ago when I started breastfeeding and pumping milk that when I was not looking at my baby’s sleeping face while breastfeeding/pumping, I was scrolling mindlessly though social media. That’s a LOT of unproductive time on social media. I don’t know about you but every time I spend waaay too much time on social media, I feel woozy and a bit empty. It is very much like the feeling I get when I eat too much junk food. So what if I could use the same amount of time to learn something new and feed my brain some healthier content? I have been a podcast geek for a few years now so I decided that I should fit useful, inspiring, and intentional content into my life.

Here is my list in case you have some time for extra learning and knowledge too – let’s be real here, traffic wastes a lot of our time so might as well use it for learning right?

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1) How I Built This

What it is about: Amazing entrepreneurs, how they started, and the backstories that we don’t get to usually read. These entrepreneurs are interviewed by Guy Raz, who is an awesome interviewer! He asks the questions I would have LOVED to ask the entrepreneurs.

Listen when: You need some inspiration – when you feel that literally everyone is waaaay ahead of you in life (hint: they are figuring things out too). This podcast helps you understand really successful and famous entrepreneurs as human beings who went through difficulties, challenges, lucky breaks (that they embraced ready or not), successes, and more challenges. Some of them started early, some started later in life, but all of them prove that we all have our own journeys and stories.

Notable episode/s: Patagonia!!! I love the founder Yvon Chouinard’s philosophy about growth. After a business crises, they decided that they will listen to their customers for their growth so that they “grow strong, not grow fat” (I’m SO tempted to tag people & companies. haha). They are also moved by their sustainable philosophies and operate, decide, and live as if they will live for 100 years.

He believes in super high quality, responsible products that you can wear and use forever! Seriously, he is like the original Marie Kondo and practitioner of the capsule wardrobe.

I could go on and on about Patagonia, but it is so much more powerful when you listen to the founder. Patagonia is amazing!! They are 50 years old (I never knew!!) and have been doing progressive and inclusive practices for a long time already. Ultimate company peg!

Also notable: Sara Blakely of Spanx, Kendra Scott of Kendra Scott

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2) Planet Money 

What it is about: Economics made fun. Seriously! Okay, I am a bit of a nerd so this may be hard to believe but just give it a chance. Listen to one of my favorites and you’ll see what I mean.

Listen when: You want to learn something new but want to do so the fun way!

Notable Episodes: I actually have a long list but if I have to choose my top 3, these would be (in no particular order)… 1.) Bagging a Birkin – about the Birkin and why it always seems to be out of stock (dun dun – that’s suspense music BTW), 2.) Setting Up An Offshore Company In A Tax Haven – it is exactly about what the title says! This episode got me more than a little sad because it is so familiar to us in the Philippines. Curious? Listen to it and tell me what you think!, 3.) How To Hide A Million Dollars In Plain Sight – also sad and familiar, 4.) Finding The Fake-News King – haha it seems like I have a theme here… sad and familiar again, 5.) Hard Work is Irrelevant – interesting concept that Netflix is practicing as a company! A bit clickbait-y but a good intellectual exercise to think about and use to debate (in a friendly way of course) with yourself or others. So that’s my top 5! Wait, did I say 3? Oops.

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3) StartUp

What it is about: The gritty, exciting, discouraging, encouraging, REAL things that happen when starting up a business – it features super interesting companies that made it or became cautionary tales.

Listen when: You feel a bit (or a lot) discouraged about your enterprise / start up and you need grounding and a little assurance that you are not alone.

Notable Episodes: Friendster! I know. Remember Friendster? I know I do. Did you know that we (as in Filipinos) contributed to why Friendster no longer exists? To be fair, there were so many reasons. But we were mentioned quite a few times so it brought me back to the time when I thought the whole Philippine population was on Friendster. So. Many. Memories.

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4) Criminal

What it is about: A true crime podcast that goes beyond just the details of crimes. It analyses the context and even psychology behind them. You know what, I can’t give justice to it, so here’s what the New York Magazine has to say:

Criminal is a true­ crime podcast that understands crime as something sociological, historical, even anthropological — that crime is a function of people, time, and place. With incredible sound design, marvelous writing, and a boldness in the way it makes its choices, there are few shows that feel more alive.” -­ New York Magazine

Listen when: I’m not sure actually! I listen to it when I’m curious about the episode. haha I guess you can do the same. Unless you are in the business of crime solving (or crime – please stop, that’s bad), this podcast may not have a direct contribution to your learning. But it is intriguing and a good mental exercise especially when you are into sociology, history, and the like. Oh, and this podcast is beautifully made! The music, audio, and script are all on point.

Notable Episodes: In Plain Sight – while the podcast is called Criminal, this episode is sort of a love story. It is about two people of different races and classes falling in love with each other and surviving during a time when a love like theirs was illegal.

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5) The Purposeful Creative

What it is about: This podcast is designed to help creative individuals explore different ideas on how to build a career or business around purpose and passion – from the Purposeful Creative website

Listen when: You need inspiration and guidance for your life, side-hustle, or career. We all want to do purposeful work in some way, and while there are lots of inspiring podcasts and articles out there, the actual examples and step-by-step process to pursue this are few.

Notable Episodes: All of them! The podcast is hosted by Arriane Serafico, a good friend and inspiration, who creates thought provoking and action-inspiring episodes. She interviewed me for this podcast and it is the most fun, engaging, vulnerable, and honest out of all the interviews I have ever done. Ever.

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6) Science VS

What it is about: Science Vs takes on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between. Hosted by Wendy Zukerman – who by the way, is a highly engaging host! When you listen to her, you can almost see her talking directly to you and doing super animated hand gestures.

Listen when: You are stuck in traffic, bored, or curious, and you want to learn things the fun way. Oh, and an openness to science is important! Because science is… well, science.

Notable Episodes: The one about Ghosts (because helloooo, Ghosts are always interesting), the one about Zika, and the one about DNA and the smell of death. Actually, I love all the episodes! This is a fairly new podcast so it is still a pretty short list, but so far, I love them all!

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7) On Being with Krista Tippett 

What it is about: On Being is a Peabody Award-winning public radio conversation and podcast, a Webby Award-winning website and online exploration, a publisher and public event convener. On Being opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live? We explore these questions in their richness and complexity in 21st-century lives and endeavours. We pursue wisdom and moral imagination as much as knowledge; we esteem nuance and poetry as much as fact. – from the On Being website 

Listen when: You want to reconnect with yourself and others, or you are going through something difficult or life-changing. It is always awesome and inspiring to listen to the experiences and perspectives of others.

Notable Episodes: Interview with Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant on Resilience After Unimaginable Loss – I’m not crying, you’re crying

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8) Startalk Radio 

What it is about: The StarTalk podcast network bridges the intersection between science, pop culture and comedy with clarity, humor and passion. Oh, and it is hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson! Hearing his voice already makes me feel smart. haha

Listen when: You love science, you are a geek, you are dating a geek (there are so many episodes that explores the science behind sci-fi movies), or you are just curious about the really cool topics they talk about.

Notable Episodes: Is Our Universe a Simulation? – see?? super cool!

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9) Reply All

What it is about: Reply All is a show about the internet and trained rats, time travel, celebrity dogs, lovelorn phone scammers, angry flower children, workplace iguanas, and more. It’s hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, who launched the show in 2014. –  from Reply All’s website 

Listen when: you are bored or looking for some new knowledge, interesting information, and additional things to talk about when networking with people

Notable Episodes: Speaking of trained rats, listen to Zardulu

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10) Freakonomics Radio 

What it is about: Yes that book! But a lot lot more. It is economics made fun too!!! Yeah, I love economics.

Listen when: You like learning but you hate boring

Notable Episodes: Is Income Inequality Inevitable?, How Safe Is Your Job?, Get Grit In Life! 

Others! (most of the blurbs copied from their websites)

HBR Idea Cast – A weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management from Harvard Business Review.

99 % Invisible – 99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.

Strangers – Each episode is an empathy shot in your arm, featuring true stories about the people we meet, the connections we make, the heartbreaks we suffer, the kindnesses we encounter, and those frightful moments when we discover that WE aren’t even who we thought we were. 

Hidden Brain – The Hidden Brain helps curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain’s host Shankar Vedantam reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behaviour, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.

Stuff You Missed in History Class – precisely stuff you missed in history class! So history retold with context and other details

The Pitch – Like Shark Tank, but in a podcast

Lore – History behind the folklores! Super super interesting!

32 Lessons, 32 Years

I have waited 20+ years to say this… I am 32 flavours and then some. Gah! Do you remember that song? I do!

I feel so old but at the same time feel like I still know nothing. Well, not nothing. But also not at the stage I thought I would be at 32, that I imagined when I was 12. I thought 32 was so old. SO. OLD. But now that I’m here, I am realising more and more that age is really just a number. It is not an indicator of wisdom or even meaningful experience. You earn wisdom and meaningful experience when you go through the years with an open and curious mind, ready to process the lessons that life throws at you!

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Looking back, 2016 (31 years old) was not too bad!

Speaking of lessons, I decided to “celebrate” my birthday yesterday with a list (I LOVE lists!) of 32 things I have learned in 32 years. Of course, I probably learned a lot more than 32 lessons. haha At least I hope I did! But I was so sleepy when I was typing this on my phone the night before my birthday so I just listed the first 32 lessons that I thought of. Which probably means something right? Right!

32 lessons, 32 years:

1) Progress, not perfection
2) Moisturise!!!
3) When people disagree with you freely but respectfully, it is a good thing. It means you have created a safe space for discourse
4) You can be firm and strict and still be compassionate
5) Being compassionate is not equal to being complicit
6) Back up all your files and photos on the cloud
7) When you don’t know something, it is a good chance to learn something
8) Don’t read the comments section. Ever.
9) You don’t need to be a conformist or non-conformist. You like what you like and that’s okay

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UM. HELLO!

10) Always choose zero % sugar when ordering milk tea
11) Huwag tanungin kung mahirap, tanungin kung mahalaga – Fr. Roque Ferriols S.J.
12) “Accept me for who I am” is not an excuse to continue or justify a bad attitude
13) Always write things down. You tell yourself you don’t have to because your memory is excellent but it is not, and you will forget! haha
14) Fear and Anger will creep up on you. Acknowledge them, work on them, but don’t feed them
15) Be honest and upfront, and yet kind and considerate
16) Don’t wear light flow-y skirts or dresses in Rockwell
17) Listen to podcasts (currently making a list and will publish this here soon!) & read articles, while stuck in traffic. That way, only your car is stuck in traffic, not you

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GUYS!!! One of the best podcasts about business!

18) While you strived to give great answers when you were younger, strive this time to ask enlightening questions
19) Make difficult decisions with love and compassion. But make them.
20) Saying sorry is not proof of weakness. It is one of the most raw and vulnerable kind of bravery
21) Empathy is messy and complicated. Empathize anyway.
22) You won’t be great at some things (accounting, etc) but that does not mean you can’t learn them
23) Most of the time, the most elegant and high-impact solution is the simplest one
24) Write on your journal as often as possible even when you don’t feel like it, even if you don’t feel articulate
25) Your imagination is not the limit, your confidence is
26) The mustard thing beside your Katsu meal, is not mustard

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27) Having a baby is not like how it looks like in commercials/shows. It is crazy (esp. the first weeks!), messy, and disorienting. But it is a different kind of joy and meaning – the kind you rediscover every single day

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I mean, look at him!!!!

28) There really are things outside your control. And that’s okay. Breathe! Seriously, that’s okay. haha
29) Character is built when you decide to keep your values, good attitude, and good outlook even through difficult and disheartening times
30) Character is more important than intelligence
31) Practice thinking 5-10 consequences ahead of a decision
32) You will make mistakes and at times, compromise values. The way forward is not to justify them but to admit that they are wrong, learn from them, and move forward

Okay, this won’t be a yearly tradition of X things I learned in my X years on earth. haha But truly grateful for this life full of adventure, experiences, moments, and yes, lessons. While I’m always hungry (breastfeeding mom problems), my heart is full. 

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Resolution Hack: New Year, 12 New Beginnings

Last 2015, I used a resolution tracker that worked so well for me! It helped me get stuff done, read the books I really wanted to read, listen to more podcasts, limit social media, and drink more water. I made this tracker because 1) I was so tired of making resolutions every year, failing to keep them after quarter one, and losing interest because I lost confidence that I could keep my own word to myself, 2) I wanted to change some habits and help myself do so through visual and positive reinforcement, and 3) My major goal last 2015 was to be more forgiving of myself and try again.

So in the spirit of this, I designed this tracker so that I could start fresh every month (and even every day!) and be encouraged to pick up from where I left off.

This 2017, I want to try this again. I designed this for myself, so it works well for me. I am curious though if it can work for some of you! If it is something you would like to explore, go ahead! If this somehow inspires you to design something for yourself, that would be awesome!

So here it is!

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What you need: 

  • An index card/thick paper that is as big or slightly smaller than the notebook you use every day (if you use notebooks, if not, make something that you can bring along with you and that you’ll see often). The idea is to use this card as a bookmark so that you get to see it every day.
  • A ruler – you’ll use to draw your rows and columns
  • Pencil
  • Your favorite pen!
  • Optional: colouring materials to decorate your tracker

The principles behind this: 

  • We all have more than one area in our lives and it is easy to take that fact for granted. Some of us make goals only for one aspect (mostly career) and that’s okay, but being intentional about the other areas in your life as well, can make a huge difference! The different areas in your life such as family, love, career, spirituality, health, and others, influence each other.
  • Habits are hard to establish! But once they are, they make life richer, more meaningful, and more productive. In fulfilling goals, forming habits are important!
  • We are not always the best decision makers and we don’t always have self-discipline. But during the beginning of the year, some of us have the best motivations and disposition to plan and implement resolutions we can keep (at least for the first quarter). Because this is usually the case, why not take advantage of your “New Year Self” and let it create a system that your “Rest of the year self” can work with?

The Steps! 

Step 1: Identify your major theme for the year! There is an awesome podcast called The Purposeful Creative hosted by Arriane Serafico you can listen to for guidance on how to identify a theme (and really, other topics and stories that will inspire you!) that is specific to you and compelling enough for you. If you are on IOS, you can subscribe through the Podcast app, if Android, you can do so through Stitcher.

Step 2: With your theme as your guide, identify your 1-3 major goals for the year. Are there monthly milestones that would help you get to the major goal?

Step 3: Guided by your theme, identify the areas in your life (Life Areas) you want to focus on and improve for 2017. To be more effective, choose 2 to 6 areas. The more areas you identify, the harder to track and to follow through.

So by now you should have: 1.) Theme for the year, 2.) 1-3 Goals for the year, 3.) Milestones for each goal – ideally with corresponding months you want to fulfil them, 4.) Your Life Areas. Some examples are Health & Fitness, Learning, Finances, Family, etc. 

Step 4: Draw the table for your monthly tracker and fill it up with the following row headers (your column headers are the months): 1) Goal – this could be one major thing/milestone you want to accomplish for the month connected to your goal for the year or just something you want to work on, 2) Project – this is just something small, something to keep you going. For example, if you are an artist who wants to paint frequently, you can make your project one big painting (and specify how big!), 3) Challenge/Dare – this will encourage you to frequently get out of your comfort zone. It could be something that is simple enough to accomplish but uncomfortable / difficult enough to qualify as a challenge/dare. You can add more row headers if you want! Mine last 2015 included “book of the month” too so I could focus on and finish one book instead of jumping from one book to another but never really finishing one.

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Every beginning of the month (or end of previous month), identify your specific Goal, Project, Dare, etc. for the month! You can also assign points for each if you want to.

Every end of the month, you can evaluate if you were able to fulfil your goals, projects, and challenges and “score” yourself (optional). For easier computation, use 100 and allocate this to the goals, projects, and challenges based on priority.

Step 5: At the back of your card, draw the table for your habits per area. If you decide to put points, an easy way to do it is to divide 100 points and assign numbers to the different areas. Remember that the value you assign to each area does not indicate that one area is more important than another! You can assign based on what area you think needs the most focus for the year. You can also equally divide 100 per area if you want to. Identify habits per area and assign points per habit that add up to the total points allocated per area (example below).

When you indicate habits, make sure that they are habits and not necessarily big goals. Habits are small things that you do every day almost automatically. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you get to exercise, drink more water, read 10 pages, and others, every single day? And the great thing is, when you fail to do any of these today, tomorrow is another day. Every day can be like New Year. =)

Every beginning of the day, evaluate the previous day and score yourself.

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How to compute your score if you decide to use a scoring system (this is how I do mine, feel free to modify): 

To get your daily score, add all the points. If you were able fulfil some habits partially or not up to the level you want to, you could assign lower points. Sum of all the points / 10 = your score for the day. For example, if your total score for the day is 80 (out of 100), divide 80/10 to get 8 (I’m soooo good at math like that)! So 8 is your score for the day!

To get your monthly score, get the average of all the daily scores. Then get the sum of your monthly score divide by 10. Get the average of the two to get your monthly score. For example, your average daily score is 7 and your monthly score is 6 (let’s say you got a total of 60, then divide by 10). Then your monthly score is (7 + 6)/2 = 6.5. Your score for the month is 6.5

To get your yearly score, get the average of all the monthly scores! You can also assign points for your goals for the year (also totals to 100), and divide by 10. Get the average of the two scores to get your yearly score.

Your target score is up to you! You can even assign “rewards” if you reach or exceed your targets. You can do this on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis.

If you decide to do this, you should really try to commit to the theme and the principles behind the system, but not necessarily the same index card/card you made at the beginning of the year. Priorities change, things change, habits are formed, and new habits need to be formed. So revise as needed and don’t let the system constrain you. It is not supposed to! It is merely a guide and a tool to help you make and keep commitments to yourself.

So there! Hope you are all pumped up for 2017!

2016 made me feel like Jon Snow

2016 made me feel like Jon Snow (Game of Thrones reference – and it is not a spoiler, geez). I realised that I knew nothing. For some of us, the world before 2016 was a bit more understandable, logical, and even predictable. But 2016 was that huge curve ball with spikes that just knocked us off our game and pricked the bubble we never thought we were in.

I’m not going to enumerate and analyse all the weird, painful, scandalous, and surprising things that happened this 2016 to the world. You can do a quick google search and see news, fake news, blogs claiming to be news, comments sections (don’t go there), and so much more! What I am going to share with you are more personal things I learned this 2016 so that I don’t forget and hopefully, you don’t forget too and you could come up with your own list of lessons learned for 2016.

Before the lessons, let me warn you that 2016 is probably THE most difficult year for me personally. It was my high school bully: irrational, persistent, and really really mean. It also came with an awesome gift, which is my little baby boy Miguel. But I felt so so battered and bruised that I found it extra challenging to even take care of my son. And it was a horrible feeling! Don’t worry though, I feel much better now. There are still many challenges, but I am well enough now to reflect on them and even objectively (gasp) evaluate some of them.

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2016 was so rough and tough that I made a letter to it in code (that I invented when I was 9) because I wanted to vent without censoring myself. Decode at your own risk (please don’t). 


So with that super cheerful caveat, here are the lessons I learned for 2016 (not in order of importance):

1) It is possible to memorise the lyrics of Guns and Ships (Hamilton Reference) and still not be able to rap it (HUHU). Keep on practicing anyway and you’ll get there little by little (I can rap 2 sentences now). Like most things, just knowing what to do is not enough, you have to do it and do it over and over again. So don’t stop learning. Learning is a muscle you have to exercise! Every achievement, no matter how small, will build your confidence and help you achieve more.

2) We know nothing. I thought I knew people and common sense, but really, the world is much more complicated than that. We have to dig deep and out of our comfort zones and echo chambers. We have to expose ourselves to discomfort and really listen to what’s being said and what’s not being said. The world does not revolve around our definition of “common”.

3) Don’t think in terms of prerequisites. How does this look like/sound like? Like this: “If only I have X, I’ll be able to do Y”. And this is SO HARD. It is easier to hide behind prerequisites. But prerequisites are tricky. There are always prerequisites to the prerequisites and the list goes on. I mean, there are times when prerequisites are really needed before something gets done (Oh, I know this SO well), but don’t let **all** aspects of your life and happiness depend on an external factor.

4) We are all just figuring things out as we go along. Not even the smartest person you know has got everything figured out.

5) Losing your chill is a choice and there are consequences. There were many times this year that REALLY tested my chill. Seriously. And there were times when I lost it and times when I kept it. Now, I could just say that “that’s the way I am, accept me” or “Oh well, my emotions got the better of me”. But saying these just won’t help me grow or improve. Instead, I’m accepting that keeping my chill is my choice. And for the times that I’ll lose it again, I could always, always bounce back and try again.

6) Making difficult decisions can be done in a compassionate way, but some decisions really have to be made for (and I used to hate this term) the greater and more long-term good. I wish life is not riddled with so many compromises and that we can truly have it all. But that’s not the case in life, business, love, diets, and other things. The best we can do is try (all the time) to remember our values and let it it guide the way we do things.

7) People will help you in their terms and in how and to what extent they want to help, not necessarily with what you need. And that’s okay, you’ll survive!

8) There will be some causes that will drain you in so many ways, but you’ll stick by them anyway because of love. As cheesy as it may sound, love is a valid motivation – not necessarily just financial gains

9) But having said that, money is important. The more you avoid it (the topic, talking about it, asking for it), the more it will avoid you.

10) There is an expiration date to blaming someone else for the decisions you have made even if they made you decide on those decisions. Yes, even if they did!

11) That said, try not to put yourself in a position where other people will decide for you or pressure you to decide against your gut.

12) We can’t give up and we can’t stop hoping. Even if there are lots of things (and people) we cannot understand, we have to try our best to understand them. But as we try and even succeed to understand them, it does not mean that we succumb or give up on our own principles and values. Now more than ever, we have to stick to them and fight for them. The future will be shaped by the battles we choose to fight today and how we choose to fight them.

——

How I put together the 12 top things I learned from 2016:

I keep a digital journal (Day One – I swear by it!) and read through key entries at the end of the year. I pick up and jot down themes, wins, and challenges, and as I go through them, some recurring lessons emerge. It is true that the lessons you have not learned will keep on haunting you until you learn them the hard way. GAH. Thanks a lot 2016. I know that sounds sarcastic (and you have no idea how many times I said that in my most sarcastic tone), but it is quite sincere.

Thanks a lot, 2016.

How to do beauty when you are lazy

Let me start by saying that I am not a beauty expert or a beauty blogger. I am in fact, a makeup dweeb and probably the laziest person ever to apply moisturizer, make-up, or skin care products on a regular basis. 

So this article is not about specific make-up tricks or how-tos. I’ll only write about those when a) I already know what I’m talking about or b) halloween is near and I want to share tips on how to look like a socially awkward raccoon (true story, this is how I do make up on myself) for your next halloween party 

This article is about the super simple beauty stuff (uh, I can’t think of the general term) one can do when he/she is always on-the-go, in a hurry, lazy, or as unskilled as I am when it comes to make-up or skin care.

Disclaimer: while the rituals and products worked for me (and I have sensitive skin), they may not work for everyone. And I could not personally guarantee that the products are preggy-safe or breastfeeding-safe (if you are pregnant/breastfeeding of course) either, you still have to ask your doctor.:)

Presenting: Beauty rituals & products you can apply in 5 minutes or less


By the way, this is not a paid or sponsored post! Full disclosure though, I got some of the items as gifts but without any promises of reviews or posts on my end (Happy Skin, Burt’s Bees, Banila Co, Mustela). I do get a lot of beauty product samples that I have tried but some of them did not work for me.

1) Moisturise in the morning

My favorite product: Human Nature Day Moisturiser. I swear by Human Nature products not just because it is a social enterprise, but because their products are really really good. I have never been used to moisturisers and a lot of the commercial ones are too strong for me (I develop light rashes or get allergic to the strong smell), but from the first time I tried the Human Nature Day Moisturiser, I never looked back and always started the day with it! 

Minutes: less than 1 minute!

2) Moisturise! Yes, again. But this one is applicable to preggies or mommies who just gave birth. 

My favorite product/s:

Mustela – When I got pregnant, all I thought about was food. I would google every single meal to make sure it’s safe for baby (I don’t recommend doing that! You can ask your doctor or get one of those apps or books to guide you on what’s safe). Because I was so preoccupied with thinking about food, I did not really think about stretch marks. It’s a good thing my friends thought of them for me! haha so I got a LOT of Mustela Stretch Mark Prevention lotions as gifts! Thank you friends for thinking about my beach-ready bikini body (haha… maybe in 2 years). I am not 100% sure if Mustela is super effective but I don’t have stretch marks (yey!)!

Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter – I got this on my 30th week and LOVED the really light and delicious scent. I loved how it felt on my skin. The only down side is that I get a little hungry every time I smell it! haha

So after my morning shower, I apply Mustela, and before I go to sleep, Mama Bee Belly Butter

Minutes: less than 1 minute. Seriously. But maybe that depends on how long you want to apply them, it could get addicting!

3) Quick “I woke up like this” make-up while on my way to work 

My favorite product/s: Happy Skin everything!

Zit Zapper Second Skin Cream – I have sensitive skin so I’m very careful with what I apply. While I rarely break out, my face gets itchy when I use products that are too strong. I have been using the Happy Skin Zit Zapper for a little less than a year now and really happy with the results! Every time I apply it, I feel light, even, and nourished! When I was younger, I thought make-up is bad for the skin so I never really learned how to apply any (hah! Excuses). Thank goodness Happy Skin makes you pretty not just for the short-term but for the long-term too.

Shut Up and Kiss Me, Honeymoon Glow (Moisturizing Lippie) – I love this colour! It matches my skin tone (yellow-ish. haha) and it feels really good on the lips too. It is easy to apply and lasts really long.

Shut Up and Kiss Me, The Morning After (Lip & Cheek Mousse) – funny back story about this. I met the Happy Skin founders Jacqe Yuengtian-Gutierrez and Rissa Mananquil Trillo during a trip to Silicon Valley earlier this year (you can read about it here). Being the make-up dweeb that I was (still am), I was using matt lipstick that made my lips really dry and chapped (but I kept on using it anyway). When my lips finally hurt because of all the skin falling off from it (sorry, gross), Jacqe and Rissa gave me Shut Up and Kiss Me Lip & Cheek Mousse from their stash! The pigment (nuks, that’s what you call it right?) is great and the consistency is creamy and pleasant on the lips and cheeks! It is also so easy to apply! Someone like me could not go wrong with this product, so someone who is slightly better, will look like a gazillion bucks!

Don’t Get Mad, Get Even Powder Foundation – this is my quick fix for impromptu photo shoots in our office (and we have a lot because we model for our own bags all the time)! And now that I’m frequently sleepless, it is also my secret weapon to cover my most expensive bags; my eye bags.

Minutes: Less than 3 minutes in total!

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4) Water!!! – I’m not a water person. I ALWAYS forget to drink water. I don’t get thirsty easily and hardly sweat (which is perfect for photoshoots but bad for my health). I know that water is good for the health, but more importantly, it is good for the skin. I know, priorities right? So now, even if I hardly get thirsty, I try to drink as much and as often as I could, especially now that I’m breastfeeding too. 

My favorite product: An app that can help you track how much water you took for the day! The name of the app is Plant Nanny. The idea is to keep your “plant” alive so you have to water it (and get reminded to drink water too!). The plants are cute too!

Minutes: Okay, this kind of breaks the less-than-5-minutes rule for me because it takes me forever to drink one glass of water. Geez. But I’m sure this could be less than 5 minutes (per glass) for others!

5) Insect repellent

My favorite product: Zenutrients Eucalyptus & Lemongrass spray – I love this because it is not greasy/oily but still effective! It is DEET-free too so I was not worried about applying it when I was pregnant and now that I’m breastfeeding. Though I had to apply more often, I enjoyed every refreshing spray 

Minutes: Less than 1 minute

6.) Sanitiser for everything (my hands, the room, etc.) 

My favorite product (not in photo because I ran out already): Messy Bessy The Little Warrior (Chamomile) – I am no germaphobe but I love this so much that I may seem like one when you see me spraying away! I love the scent, all-purpose-ness, effectiveness of the product, uncomplicated ingredients, and the cause behind the company! Read about them here.

Minutes: Less than 1 minute

7) End of day: remove make up

My favorite product: Banila Co Clean It Zero Make Up Remover – it feels like luxurious paraffin wax and looks like sorbet, but melts so well as you apply it on your face! It effectively removes make-up too, even those really stubborn liquid eyeliners. I mean, I know, I just apply light make-up on most days, but during those days when we have full on shoots for magazines/TV that require heavier-than-usual-make-up, Banila Co Clean It Zero does the job pretty well. And I’m obsessive when it comes to removing make-up at the end of the day! 

Minutes: 2-5 minutes, depending on how much make-up you have on.

8) End of day: wash face

My favorite product: Human Nature Nourishing Facial Wash – I love this one! It does not leave the skin dry but you’ll still feel clean even without feeling squeaky. Oh, and I don’t mean to sound defensive (which makes me sound defensive), but I also wash my face in the morning, in case you are wondering/judging. haha 

Minutes: 2-4 minutes – only because I like to lather up a bit longer

9) End of day: night moisturizer

My favorite product: Human Nature Night Moisturizer – I brought this with me on a trip to the US (Philadelphia for the Forbes 30 Under 30 summit) late last year. The weather was quite cold and windy, which could freeze your face and make your skin super dry. I used this for both day and night and loved it! My face did not hurt, and my skin felt soft, supple, and moisturised the whole time. That felt extra good because I kind of know how it feels to have a frozen and dry face. 

Minutes: 1 minute! It does not take a lot of product to cover my face. A little bit goes a long way too!

So there! I hope that I was able to somehow save some of you some shopping and decision-making time. I was able to get to this stage of having an actual list of products I love because of the help of so many amazing friends (who recommended products they were using or gave me some because they pitied me) and entrepreneurs (who worked so hard to bring quality products to us).

Um… You probably won’t be reading a lot of beauty product reviews in my blog, so this could be it. haha I’m all tapped out. Unless of course, I stumble upon the next awesome product that fits my less-than-5-minutes-to-apply criteria. I did not call this entry “How to do beauty when you are lazy” for nothing.