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Success in the Heartlands

Last week, I had an unexpected windfall. I was awarded a bag filled with frozen foodstuff and I got $18 richer. The source of my good fortune came from a weekend gig I had taken on just before the Chinese New Year season selling frozen goods at the NTUC FairPrice in Bedok. Apparently, my team and I managed to sell so much frozen food that NTUC FairPrice decided to award us with a hamper with $20 worth of frozen goods and an $18 cash donation.

Me with the Prize

While the “prize “wasn’t something that would make a major difference to daily life, it was exceedingly gratifying. I’ve never been much of a salesman (I can move products – but I need a while to build a rapport, which is I why I move stuff at the Bistrot but its not in my nature to go for the kill with strangers – hence I would die if I went door-to-door) and for the most part I had to operate in a language that is my poor and distant fourth (Mandarin). So, being awarded for something I don’t do well in an environment that I struggle in felt that much more satisfying.

It was also an educational experience in getting to know the heartlands or Singapore as it is rather than what the government would like you to think that it is. I, for example, spend most of my time in an accounting firm in the financial district. It’s tempting to think that what I do in the land of spreadsheets is the be all and end all of what makes the economy tick. The truth is, the fate of the real economy is not based on what the faceless suites like me do. It’s based on what the “Uncles” and “Aunties” in the Heartlands do. Any entrepreneur who hopes to build a sustainable business in Singapore should focus on winning the loyalty of this group.

So, how did my team of supermarket promoters find success? Well, in all honesty, the real hero was not me. It was the promotion. The lead promotion was a hefty discount on pork (an important part of any self-respecting Chinese New Year meal). This in turn made it easy to sell the second promotion, which was to get them to buy a few more items to win a small prize of a cooler bag.

The Promotion Behind me is the Real Hero.

The Uncles and Aunties in the HDB estates have a nose for a bargain and as long as you can show them that there is one to be had, you can plant the idea of getting them to buy a little bit extra just to win something. The hero was the promotion itself. We merely had to find ways of making sure that they were aware that there was a bargain to be had.

Their keen nose for a bargain did mean that one had to do a little bit of crowd control. From time to time, one had to remind the crowds that Covid-19 is very much around and crowding together is dangerous to one’s well-being, and poking the plastic cover of the pork was also unacceptable. Another part of this involved positioning the product around the freezer in order to get people to spread out.

So, whenever one deals with the crowd in the heartlands, one has to understand that they are fierce value hunters and what they want is the sense that they have gained value for what they’ve bought.

Between the Bargain and Social Distancing?

The second point that I noticed was that the other heroes of this success story was the guys who I was partnered with. The guys I was “partnered” with were significantly older. This was the first work environment where I was actually referred to as “Xiao Di” or “Younger Brother.”

If you watch these old guys work, you’ll notice that whatever they may lack in physical speed, they more than make up for it in enthusiasm. One of the old uncles that I was partnered with, managed the inventory of bags and tirelessly engaged customers.

This Old Boy Has the Energy of Get Things Explained Clearly

Anyone who thinks that “Old” people don’t have value to the work place is clearly trapped in a cubicle in some strange office. Sure, I could do more of the physical stuff like going into the cold room to replenish supplies, these guys were able to push customers in ways that I could not.

Much is being said about how we’ve become an aging society and the government is trying its best to get people to make babies. However, as well as looking at making more young people, the powers-that-be need to get creative about our “human” resources. The old people that I worked with want to be useful and finding ways to let them have that opportunity can only be beneficial to the rest of us.

 

Tang Li

*Although I’ve been based mainly in Singapore for nearly two decades, I’ve had the privilege of being able meet people who have crossed borders and cultures. I’ve befriended ministers and ambassadors and worked on projects involving a former head of state. Yet, at the same time, I’ve had the privilege of befriending migrant labourers and former convicts. All of them have a story to tell. All of them add to the fabric of life. I hope to express the stories that inspire us to create life as it should be.

 

 

yyy
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15 Responses to “Success in the Heartlands”

  • Enjoy your success:

    Enjoy your success while you can, Singaporeans.

    India minister predicts, “”By 2047, every person sitting in Delhi will be earning as much as every person in Singapore.”

    We already know that Singapore has been going from 1st world to 3rd world. No need so long until 2047.

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  • Tracey Ching:

    The hidden agenda in this stupid article by a part-time propagandist and possible IB agent is to push the govt’s agenda for the stupid citizenry to accept the fact that they have to work till they are dropped dead. The Govt do not want to shoulder the responsibility of taking care of the old folks. You die is your business. I can only hope this unconscionable act of spin by this cretin of a fxxxwit will soon have the opportunity to experience such hardships himself.

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  • DPM HSK talking cock. AGAIN:

    Straits Times: Businesses can serve as a bridge between countries: Heng Swee Keat

    DPM HSK is indeed full of shit.

    Business should be a bridge between people, NOT countries. Why? Because any country is really its citizens, especially Singapore. Singaporeans are the ONLY real asset of Singapore. Sadly, LKY (and PAP) does not believe this. For them Singapore is an island at the tip of the Malay Peninsula with an economic statistics (GDP) attached to it and “Singapore is PAP” and “PAP is Singapore”. Singaporeans are to be used (even abused) then discarded for economic growth so PAP has bragging rights to justify paying its officeholders million $ salaries.

    The truth is Singaporeans are Singapore. Singaporeans (not freeloading deadbeat foreigners) First. Always. Period

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  • Indranee talking cock:

    Straits Times: Parliament has to choose between what’s popular and what’s right as spending needs grow: Indranee

    Indranee is full of shit (also stupid) just like HSK.

    (1) Parliament cannot really know what is “right” because of the lack of openness and transparency in the public sector.

    (2) Just looking at spending is NOT enough to know what is right. One must look at the “big (whole) picture”. This means also knowing the size of reserves AND the ACTUAL TOTAL government surplus, including those made by self-funding stat boards not included in the Budget.

    (3) It is an insult to Singaporeans to claim they do not know what is “right” and only want the soft option.

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    This Old Boy Has the Energy of Get Things Explained Clearly…
    ===========================================
    Yes, Tang Li. You are right.
    I also notice older Singaporeans had good attitude compared to younger Singaporeans.

    Younger Singaporeans will show you black face, impatient and rude as if customer owe them. And they are always playing with their mobile phone.

    Younger Singaporeans will only hide behind moniker and whine and whine whole day blaming everyone else except themselves.

    Ownself lazy and unmotivated but blame others, blame FT.

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.HuatAgain
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$

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  • Pap has the mandate:

    Singapore PAP Government quietly support age discrimination.

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Tang Li and all hard driving, hard striving Singaporeans be careful.

    Oppie will taunt you and call you names like Pappie puppy working for crumps.

    Especially one chief instigator guy hiding in Kangaroo land..

    These are the lazy and unmotivated sore losers who are jealous of other who are more hard driving, hard striving than them.

    Beware of people who claim to fight and stand up for your rights.
    They, though not all, could have d**honourable hidden agenda.

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.HuatAgain
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$

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  • Tew Kau Leh (TKL):

    Nicely packaged. One old botak uncle exploiting the greedy/naive olds in the heartland. What’s new?

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  • TEMUSIK PATRIOT:

    Good for you Tangfastic …to go a mile further look for all the elderly working in the hawker centers and toilets… and get your team to donate a hamper worth $8 (luck) to these poor souls and Buddha will Bless you

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  • Tracey Ching:

    Aiyoh, based on the photos submitted, this person is not only a baldish person but also a shortie.

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  • Another Louis:

    Some stupid buggers talk as if he is giving out alms to needy old folks.
    THINK! Just like Louis making use of hawkers to advertise his hidden agenda. This fellow is promoting himself for future political stint.

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  • xoxo:

    So,you won a BIG PRIZE?
    Hey,you shud have gone to work for Sheng Siong instead?

    Btw,wud you like to write to H$K to claim the BALANCE OF $22400 from the $100B loot as you probably received only $600 to buy LNY peanuts for elderly toothless poor sinkies?

    The 4G LEEder$$$ learn ALL THE WRONG THINGS from their 3G MENTOR.

    Meanwhile,prepare to pay more bus fares,G$T,levies,medical bills and more expensive foodstuffs from NTUC FATprice?

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  • Tang Li:

    First of all – I am NOT “BALDISH” – I am completely BALD. I started losing hair early in life and made it a point of shaving my scalp. As to be my height – I’m about 1.79m. Not sure if that makes me short, though if one wants me to be short, I guess way to do it is to crowd fund me and send me to live in Sudan with the Dinka tribe, who, if I am not wrong are considered the world’s tallest people.

    Yes, I have an agenda. It is the Short, Fat and Bald Agenda, which if I get into power, I will ensure that short, fat or/and bald men will get more benefits from the tax payer.

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  • Ah Li's all f old slave labour:

    What is called won-ton verbiage and a personal hard sell?

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  • Kilat Lautiko?:

    Need more Kiwi polish. Tharman S. might notice him.

    Ah Li's all f old slave labour:
    What is called won-ton verbiage and a personal hard sell?

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