Walking into ReSET’s cosy office just off Robertson Quay, I see a petite woman typing intensely, her brows furrowed in concentration. She doesn’t seem to notice my presence, but as soon as she finishes her sentence with a satisfied, triumphant last tap of a key, she turns to me and smiles warmly.
She clears a space on the desk (sweeping aside, I see, a jumble of papers and a stray book on startups) and offers me a glass of water – I can’t help but notice her tapered fingers.
By way of small talk, I ask her if she plays the piano. As it turns out, she plays the violin, and was once part of the Singapore Lyric Opera Orchestra, as well as the San Nikkis, an all female electric strings band. Impressive, especially since I have the musical ability of a spoon, if that.
Smiling apologetically, she seems sheepish about having overlooked me earlier. “You know how it is”, she says, drinking from her own glass, “Sometimes we’re too caught up with things.”
That I can agree with. It’s not uncommon for my friends and I to emphatically partake in rounds of “Let’s meet up soon!” or make half-hearted dinner plans that fizzle to nothing.
While we don’t blame each other (there are things that get in the way – work, school, life, and more), there’s an overwhelming sense of guilt that accompanies these interactions, like perhaps, we should be doing more to catch up and connect with each other.
This is something that Shen Xiaoyin, the soft-spoken woman in front of me, intimately understands. After all, she has built a social impact start up, ReSET, tackling just that. Despite being only in her early thirties, ReSET is already the third social impact venture that she has held key positions in.
But ReSET holds a special place in her heart, as it represents the culmination of her life experiences thus far.
Helping Others Lighten Their Load
A certified legal professional, Xiaoyin volunteered pro-bono with AWARE’s legal clinic for nearly three years. While at AWARE, she encountered numerous heartbreaking stories of couples who found themselves trapped in unhappy relationships, and who were desperately seeking help and advice.
“All I wanted was to lighten their load and improve their lives,” Xiaoyin says. “And I saw that I could do that by connecting them with a holistic network of support and vital information.”
Indeed, in the short months since ReSET’s inception earlier this year, they have already partnered with more than ten skilled professionals ranging from relationship counsellors and positive psychologists to meditation specialists and wealth coaches.
Some of these professionals, like Delphine Supanya, a self-love and meditation coach, frequently conduct workshops to sold-out crowds in the cosy attic nook tucked away in ReSET’s office.
Technology: For Better Or For Worse?
Clearly, ReSET is all about reconnecting people with themselves and their loved ones and in so doing, strengthening these relationships, but the concepts of “connecting” and “reset” seem to have a marked technological slant.
Technology has been decried by the likes of academics like Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, as an impediment to interpersonal connection.
Naturally, I had to ask. Does technology alienate us from each other and ourselves, and what position does ReSET take in this divisive debate?
Almost instantaneously, Xiaoyin confidently replies that for her and ReSET, technology is not the enemy, and that we shouldn’t fear it. In fact, technology is the new medium through which our personal relationships can be conducted and enhanced. ReSET’s DNA, so to speak, bears testament to this key tenet held by Xiaoyin.
ReSET’s holistic repertoire of offerings include a website through which couples in crises can connect with trained professionals in workshops and one-on-one sessions. It will also launch an app in early 2019, which will offer an enhanced chat with smart suggestions for couples looking to improve their relationships with each others.
“After all,” Xiaoyin says, “we just want to make life a better place to be in. And if life today is characterised by digitality, then technology is the best, if not the only effective way to engage with today’s digital-savvy crowd.”
While musing on this nugget of wisdom, my phone dings, breaking my reverie. Aptly, it is a notification from a friend who has sent me a funny meme. Smiling, I tap out an uncharacteristic reply: “Dinner later?” (I usually reply with a cute sticker instead) before making my goodbyes to Xiaoyin. As I leave ReSET’s office and try to find my way back to the station, I cannot help but realise that I feel utterly refreshed, and indeed – reset.
ReSET will be launching an app for couples in early 2019 and is in the meantime running workshops on positive psychology and love. To find out more, click here.