Unconventional Jobs

Seven people. Four different jobs. One incredible life. We meet a group of people who are making a living by living out their dreams.

By Eliza Hamizah

Professional Poker Player: Bryan Huang

Bryan Huang picked up poker at the age of 19 and won his first tournament on his second try. Despite getting offers to turn pro, he decided to complete his Accountancy degree first; however, the lure of the tables proved too much to bear. This gutsy move proved to be a beneficial one as Bryan won the 2010 Asia Player of the Year title and is currently a part of Team PokerStars Pro: Asia.

Do you consider playing poker as your job or a pastime with an income? Is it difficult to explain what you do to relatives and curious cab drivers?

Bryan: It started as a pastime but the income was too good to overlook! Poker, albeit stressful at times, is a very enjoyable form of work for me. My relatives find it easier to understand what I do for a living because I have gone on talk shows and sports channels. As for cab drivers, I just say I am in the gaming business and they always assume I work as a dealer somewhere!

Describe your relationship with money.

Bryan: On the poker table, money is used as a point system to see how well I’ve done against my opponents. Ultimately, it is my income. I disagree with the saying "money is the root of all evil" because the lack of money brings forth many problems. I try to earn enough to ensure my family and I lead a comfortable lifestyle.

What was the strangest/best thing you’ve bought with the money you won?

Bryan: The best thing I have purchased has to be the engagement ring for my wife.

It has been said that a game or enterprise is classified legally as gambling if luck and chance predominate over skill. What are your thoughts on this?

Bryan: I agree, however, I think luck is in every form of our lives. Crossing the road, working, and even eating is considered a calculated risk. In my profession, skill predominates luck and chance which is why poker playing is a lot more respected now.

One of the perks of being a poker player is meeting a lot of interesting people. Tell us about the people you’ve met.

Bryan: It's interesting because playing poker has allowed me to meet billionaires, very successful businessmen, jobless people, drug dealers, and even triad bosses. The funny thing is, on the table, everyone is an equal and their chips do the talking. Poker is interactive so I’ve learnt a lot about the lives of these people and I’ve made many friends in the process. Another perk would be the freedom. I choose when and where I want to play. On the flipside, losing a large amount of money in one night affects you emotionally.

Tell us about your most memorable competition.

Bryan: It has to be the very first competition I played in the Caribbean. I was on a cruise and I nailed my first big score of $90k USD. It was also later broadcasted in the UK. However, the entire 2010 circuit has to be my favourite because I won the Asia Player of the Year title.

If you weren’t a poker player, what would you be?

Bryan: I would have signed on with an Auditing firm specializing in the finance sector and eventually, taken up a bank related job which involves a lot of (calculated) risk-taking.

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Food Stylists: Charles Neo, Calvin Huang and Sawarto

They’re in the business of making food look good in the glossy magazine pages, the printed pictures of the newspapers, and even on the flat screen of your television. These three friends, Charles Neo, Calvin Huang and Sawarto, combined their individual talents and founded the company, Food Stylist Singapore.

Take us through a typical work day.

Charles: I should say one of the best things about our job is that there are no typical days. Each day is so unique. One day, we may be preparing a plate of pasta for brand advertisement, the next we are deciding how to present ice-cream at its best angle. Generally, once we receive an assignment from our clients, it starts with brainstorming on the amount of food and equipment needed. Once done with the planning, we are off to our shopping spree, which sounds deceptively simple! (Laughs)

Calvin: Sawarto will prepare and style the food. I'll prepare my equipment and settings according to the client’s specification and concept. After I’m done, I will hand over to Charles to retouch and proceed with the designing of the artwork.

Is it difficult to explain what you do to relatives and curious cab drivers? What do you say?

Sawarto: It’s very difficult! I will tell them I do cosmetic makeup for food.

Calvin: Many people have no idea what food stylists do. It’s basically making food look good for photography purposes only.

Charles: I tell them they see it daily, be it on magazines, newspapers or online media. I am, in a way, contributing to their visual desires!

What do you like and dislike about your job?

Charles: The best thing would be the sense of satisfaction when our clients are truly impressed by our combined efforts. The toughest is to inspire someone on the concept of our designs, as most of the time you need both hands to clap.

After countless of photo shoots, do you ever lose your appetite? What dish do you crave for after a long day?

All three: Never ever!

Calvin: We just want an "edible" version of the food that we've prepared.

What does it take to be a fantastic food stylist?

Sawarto: An eye for detail, 99.9% perfectionist and most importantly, an undying passion for food!

Calvin: A fantastic food stylist must love food and able to enhance the appearance of the food, seducing the appetite of any customer.

Any memorable experiences to share?

All three: (Laughing) When Calvin insists it’s not a perfect shot and we have to redo-it!

Sawarto: I love to tease my clients to eat the food after the shoot. It looks very appetizing but unfortunately, it is also very artificial.

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Clinical Sexologist: Martha Lee

Ever wondered what makes mind-blowing sex, well, mind-blowing? Martha Lee, the only certified clinical sexologist in Singapore, can give you the answer and teach you a trick or two about it. She is the founder of Eros Coaching, the only company specialising in sexuality and intimacy coaching in Singapore.

Is it difficult to explain what you do to people?

Martha Lee: Not at all! I just tell them I work with people with sexual issues.

Share with us some must-know tips of human sexuality.

Martha: Well, rather than be fixated with what is “normal”, it is more important to recognise that we are all individuals and have different sexual needs, wants and desires, and we should express them uniquely!

Describe your relationship with your clients.

Martha: It’s good! Some clients can be shy at first but by openly communicating with them and exuding a sense of empathy, my clients will be able to relax and share their problems with me.

What does it take to be a good clinical sexologist?

Martha: A good clinical sexologist is somebody who is comfortable with his or her own sexuality, has positive attitudes towards sexuality and has a good understanding of the whole spectrum of the human sexual behaviour.

What are the tell-tale signs when a couple or an individual needs help?

Martha: Tell-tale signs include not being able to communicate their sexual needs, desires and wants. The most common sexuality issue I have worked on is vaginismus, which is when it is impossible or difficult to have penetrative sex. Next on the list is early ejaculation as well as sexual desire disparity.

What classes and workshops do you offer and how has the response been?

Martha: I offer workshops for both women and couples. My most popular workshop is Sizzling Strokes for ladies. The response has been very positive and I’ve conducted it 70 times as of September 2011. In this workshop, I offer tips and techniques for good oral sex. I will touch on the importance of breathing, erotic massages and even the topic of the male anatomy. Another workshop I offer is Kissing Fishes where I teach my clients how to kiss creatively. There are all kinds of kisses! Such as Candy Kiss, Earlobe Kiss and Nip Kiss. I will also provide the Do’s and Don’ts to Kissing.

If you weren’t a clinical sexologist, what would you be?

Martha: I have been in different fields of discipline and I know I could be many things, but I have chosen to do this because it is my calling.

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Handwriting Expert: S. Sulianah

Your handwriting says a lot about you; handwriting analyses of several serial killers have turned up scarily accurate and useful. Banks seek the help of handwriting experts to distinguish the forgery amongst the authentic signatures.

Handwriting analysis, or graphology, is one of the methods that can reveal whether you’re rigid, aggressive, creative or responsible. S. Sulianah, founder of Grapholistic International, let us in on the secrets to graphology.

Take us through a typical work day in Grapholistic International.

S. Sulianah: My company participates in events, road shows, and talks, where we meet people who are curious about graphology. In addition, we attend to clients who send their handwritings for analysis, be it for personal references or to enhance their CVs. This also goes to employers who would like to ensure that the candidates they select are portraying their true personalities.

What made you decide to pursue this career?

Sulianah: In life, communication is an important aspect. I find graphology an interesting and accurate way to know the inner depths of a person. Simply said, I want to put my interest to good use!

What do you like and dislike about your job?

Sulianah: It is great to know the personality, strengths, and limitations of a person. Most of my clients are aware of their traits but are unsure. I provide them assurance and this enlightens me. The only setback is that, knowing too much about a person can be complicated. I have to be extra careful with what I say to them.

Let us in on some basics of handwriting assessment.

Sulianah: Basically, your handwriting is in sync with your daily life. What you do is communicated through how you write. It is similar to the way you dress and how you want others to perceive you.

If your handwriting slants to the right it means that you are leaning towards something or someone. In terms of interactivity, it means you can express yourself comfortably and not hold back your feelings and viewpoints.

Another example would be how you write the letter ‘T’. The higher the t-bar is placed on the t-stem, which is above the middle zone of the other letters, the higher your self-esteem. Self-esteem is one of the important traits that I will highlight to clients. The strength of this trait will influence confidence in communication, decision-making, and projecting talent and capabilities.

With an in-depth analysis, one can also identify depression or other mental illnesses. The size of handwriting, its stability, pressure, and marks on the letters all play a vital role during the analysis.

If you weren’t a handwriting expert, what would you be?

Sulianah: A scriptwriter! I love to write and would like to see my imaginations come to life on screen.

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