[The Hieno! Suomi 100 series] Inspirations from President Tarja Halonen.

Finnish People, Finnish Politics, Official Finland 100 Series Endorsed by Prime Minister's Office

Today, as part of The Hieno! “What is Finnish-ness” series celebrating Suomi 100 in 2017, we have the huge privilege of featuring President Tarja Halonen.

We are especially thankful that President Halonen and her team made precious time from her busy schedule to do this interview with us! 🙂

Tarja Halonen: The First Female President of Finland.

President Tarja Halonen served two terms as the president of Finland from 2000-2012. A vocal champion of social equality and minority rights, she is a tremendous inspiration and role model to many female leaders worldwide.

In 2009, Forbes named President Halonen as one of the top 100 most powerful women in the world.

Aside to her political career, President Halonen served extensively in trade unions and various non-governmental organisations. She also chaired the main Finnish gay rights organisation SETA from 1980-1981 and was an early proponent of gay rights.

An interesting fun-fact for our Singaporean readers: President Halonen made significant contributions towards the excellent diplomatic ties between Singapore and Finland.

In February 2008, President Halonen visited Singapore with high-level Finnish business and state delegations, 13 years after any Finnish president went to Singapore on a state visit.

In October 2010, President Halonen extended a state invitation to our Singaporean President Nathan, where many fruitful discussions were made and concluded. The 2010 presidential state visit to Finland was a clear affirmation of the start of many stronger bilateral collaborations and goodwill between the two nations.

The 3 things President Tarja Halonen considers as “Finnish”.

Firstly, President Tarja Halonen regards the sauna as “Finnish”, affectionately saying that the sauna is “very dear to us.”


Next, she felt that the concept of “sisu” is also particularly Finnish, for it is “the spirit in which we raise our kids.”

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Last but not least, she considers the northern nature to be particularly Finnish, too.

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The 3 things about Finland that President Halonen is particularly appreciative of.

Equality, education and solidarity are three things that President Halonen hold particularly close to heart when it comes to Finland.

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President Halonen once made a speech in 2000 at the opening of the Women of Learning exhibition in Helsinki which highlighted these three values.

We present the following extract from that speech:

“We are a model country where gender equality is concerned…Under-representation of women and other inequality among researchers is a problem that will not solve itself as women acquire competence….The Finland of the 21st century can thrive only if women of learning – in common with their male counterparts – are guaranteed the opportunity to use their creative potential to the full.”

In the book “Te naiset, te naiset: Sitaatteja vain naisilta” (2006) by Laine Jarkko and Jung Irmeli, President Halonen also mentioned that–

Naisille annetaan helposti vaikeimmat tehtävät”;

which translates to:

“Women receive easily the most difficult assignments.”

As a distinguished lady who served two terms as the President of Finland, President Halonen truly walks the talk!

The one birthday wish President Halonen has for Finland 100.

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For Finland 100 in 2017, President Halonen wishes that:

“Finland would be strong in implementing and promoting sustainable development both at home and internationally.”

Don’t we all love President Halonen already for her big hearted-ness? ♡ ♡ ♡ 

Some personal reflections.

I first met President Halonen at an UN-Economic conference in 2014, and will always remember how approachable and knowledgable she is.

President Halonen really has no airs at all and is generous in sharing her wisdom and experiences with the audience. We even took this picture where she locked her arms into mine! :DDD /fangirls


Foreigners who have met President Halonen spoke especially fondly of her. I personally don’t think that “warm” is a word you will use to describe many presidents or ambassadors in the world.

Lilian Neo, the chair of the Singaporean Association in Finland for instance, once told me that she is particularly inspired by how sincere and modest President Halonen is.

It’s truly a great privilege to have President Halonen on our series and we are very grateful. We hoped you have enjoyed this feature!~♡

Credits| Feature photo: Tarja Halonen. / Other photos: Unsplash.

What is Self-Esteem and Authenticity? Interview with Angelica Ang

angelica ang

Today we have the huge privilege of having Angelica Ang with us!~

Angelica Ang is a coach at Stardom, a speaker and a talk show host. Today, we have the huge privilege of having her at The Hieno as she speaks to us more about what she thinks about self-worth, self-esteem and authenticity.

You may follow Angelica at her personal or professional websites, Youtube, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram.

Enjoy the feature! ^^

Wan Wei: Hello Angelica, thank you for your time today! How would you personally define “self-esteem” and “authenticity” respectively?

Angelia Ang: I would personally define “self-esteem” as feeling a sense of worthlessness.

  • “I don’t stand out, I’m just not captivating enough.”
  • “She impresses everyone she meets. She’s just got that X-factor I don’t.”

You and I have thought like that. Perhaps you’re a career professional or business owner who meets people a lot—at events, tradeshows and conferences and with trouble working a room —and you’re unhappy how you present yourself to them.

It might be true that better-looking and more charming people earn more, impress the right people more easily and generally advance faster. Do they have something we don’t?

  • “Can I really learn to be confident in front of a crowd?”

Growing up, I was shy and hated myself—the way I looked and behaved around others. Many people were quick to insult me and put me down, and over time I actually came to agree with them. I became perfectionistic, working myself to the bone to live up to the standards they set… not realizing that I never would.

Authenticity helps you become A Better Entrepreneur and be A Better Person

Authentic voice reflects through your work and action. In Johari Window, “The Undiscovered Self”, every single steps you take will develop this skills to discover your own voice, how entrepreneurs and individuals can be more authentic and more.

We live in a cynical age, and people might be cautious about your motive, or looking at the angle behind any communication. If you want to break through this noise, you have to show that you are genuinely in your message and actions, and that you truly show care and compassion toward people.


Wan Wei: What does it mean to be “yourself” and how does it relate to self-esteem? Is it possible to “be yourself” and still have a low self-esteem?

Angelia Ang: Low self-esteem is a negative evaluation of oneself which usually occurs when some past circumstance we encountered touches on our sensitivities.

If you have low self-esteem, you may feel:

  • Uncomfortable and shy
  • Uncertain of your own abilities
  • A sense of worthlessness or lost
  • Unable to enjoy and relax in situations that you’d like to
  • Unable to get a sense of direction in life
  • Failing to make your voice heard at pivotal moments

Having low self-esteem can affect your mood and you may feel depressed, low, guilty, and you might even try to prove your worth to others. Further, you may avoid situations that could cause anxiety.

High Self-esteem, on the other hand, describe the way that you feel regardless of your looks and your achievements. The pride, self-respect, confidence that you radiant with, and you are comfortable in your own skin.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” ― Henry Ford

Your confidence level and the belief can be shown through your achievement. If you follow your heart (your calling), and going into “The Johari Window – The Undiscovered Self”, and discover your untagged talents.

On the way to your success, there will always be naysayers, doubters, and energy vampires, and even your own negative thoughts (low self-esteem). Eliminate this thoughts and keep asking yourself “WHY” – Why I should do this? Why I must make this first step? Why I should own this success?

And someday, you will be answering this:

‘You always seem to always get _______, make such great _____ that the rest of us could only wish for?’ How did you do this? _________


Wan Wei: What are the 3 practical baby-steps then that any person can do to build self-esteem?

Angelica Ang:

  • Childlike Sense of Wonder

Be courageous, adventurous and develop a sense of curiosity.

When we were young, adults teach us to be careful. Without noticing it, we start to be very cautious that we might make terribly mistakes. This curiosity diminished from our nature as we grow up. Unless we can treat life as a great adventure, to learn and relearn. Be courageous to live a life well lived.

  • Identify cause of triggers

“I don’t like the way I look.”

Don’t focus on the beauty you see in advertisement, but instead, to the beauty you see in the real-life people you admire.

  • Confidence building tips

 Try to remove negativity from your life

If you are constantly doubting yourself, you might have to evaluate your inner circle of friends and family. Even a temporary break from a person can offer a real positive step towards confidence building.

  • Change your body language

You can slowly start confidence building by changing your body language. This starts with your posture, eye contact and smiling. Smiling will make others more comfortable around you, and make you feel radiant too.

In Stardom Workshop, I coach my clients (business owners, entrepreneurs and career professional) how to be the STAR and 3P Frameworks.

No, I didn’t coach them to be celebrities. But STAR on their own field, based on Presence – move, speak and eliminating a captivating zeal, so they will be always in control of the situation.

Offline, when they do stage and/or business presentation, attend networking setting and social events. And Online, how to the captivate person on social media. How to be better of yourself than yesterday, unleashing the stylish, magnetic person I know lies within everyone, whenever you have an introvert or extrovert personality.


Wan Wei: What are the 3 signs anyone can use to double-check from time to time that he or she is true to himself/herself?

Angelica Ang: We associate genuineness with appealing traits, such as strength of character and emotional resilience—and being true to yourself takes Tenacity, Bravery and Self-confidence.

  1. Genuine people speak their mind.

They take Quiet Time to figure out their thoughts and perspectives about things, and they are generously sharing and presenting their ideas and thought-out opinions.

  1. Genuine people respond to internal expectations.

They spend time exploring their own beliefs, and always improve their standards, and expectations. Hence, always have the learners’ attitudes, toward learn and relearn.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

  1. Genuine people bounce back from every failure.

Genuine people are not threatened by the idea of failing nor keeping their fear zone. In fact, they view failure as an integral part of their journey, a source of learning, and an enriching experience from which they can grow.

Are you continually being true to yourself? Life is too short to live behind a life unlived.

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – E.E. Cummings


Wan Wei: What is the meaning of “the best version of yourself”? Why must we be the “best” version of ourselves? How many bests can we have?

Angelica Ang: Technology, example mobile gadgets subtle change on the surface including improve and continue to upgrade on the version.

As Humans, we must adjust and adapt to change, learn and relearn, keep on improving and upgrading to bring out the “BEST VERSION of ourselves”.

  1. Learn to listen to yourself.

Listen to your inner voice. Learn to have quiet times, and remove Mobile and IT gadgets, and fully get intoned with your inner self. We must learn to be still without distractions.

Develop the Behaviors that will make you Unstoppable.

Keep asking yourself this Questions – “Why I should do this? Have I done my Best? How do I improve on this situation? What shall I do differently? Why I must make this first step? Why I should own this success?

  1. Learn to be good to yourself.

“The Johari Window – The Undiscovered Self”. Learn to discover your untagged talents. Tune into what you like and what you can do best. Attend workshop / seminar, learn a new language, start drawing or take up photography. Do it now. Learn and be good to yourself.

  1. Don’t hold back your grief.

Be genuine with your feeling. Learn to face this grief. You can make better choices when you are not afraid of losing or failing and know that you can get through whatever happens.

Are you being your “BEST VERSION of yourself”? Be still and continually ask yourself.

We hope you have enjoyed the interview today! You may follow Angelica at her personal or professional websites, Youtube, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram. Angelica also has a special gift for you–click here!

Autumn Photoshoot With Jenni Aho Photography

Finland Wedding, Things to do in Helsinki
soh wan wei

Last week we had an Finnish autumn photography session with Jenni Aho (Of Jenni Aho Photography) and it was so much fun! I’m writing this post today to brides who sometimes end up on this blog after googling “pre-wedding photography in Finland“, so I thought it might be a good idea to show you what sort of photographs we got.

Autumn is a beautiful season and I’m so happy that we got to do this photoshoot before I fly back to Singapore later!~ 🙂

Jenni Aho is a Finnish photographer with over 10+ years of experience behind the camera. Do check out her instagram @jenniahophotography for her portfolio– and she does commissions/ professional photoshoots as well. Her speciality is in portrait photography in nature–so IF you are looking for photos to put for your wedding invitations, Jenni is the person to go to =)

Oh she also does boudoir photography. So awesome yeah!

Without further ado here are the photographs!



What do you think? These are so lovely photographs, right? ^^

Do follow Jenni on facebook too for more updates!


How About Joanna Dong for National Day 2018? ;)

joanna dong jay chou

WOW PEOPLE. What a stunning performance by Joanna Dong!

♡ Jay & Joanna! ♡~ | 周杰伦 x 董姿彥

Even though she didn’t make it to top two, her performance was such a huge accomplishment on so many levels! ^^

joanna dong
Personally I hope she sings for Singapore in NDP 2018! (Hey NDP2018 organizers, let’s make this happen yeah?)

Because she’s such an amazing role model who loves Singapore!! 🙂

So proud of you JoDong! 我们永远支持你!!~我们新加坡永远的赢家,永远的骄傲!